Women’s Key Health Concerns & How to Address Them
THE MOST COMMON WOMEN’S HEALTH-RELATED CONCERNS
The most common causes of death among women living in the UK are cardiovascular diseases (heart attack, stroke, hypertension, etc.) and cancer (including especially breast, cervical and ovarian cancer).
Also, the mortality rates from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in females has increased steadily since 2006. Alzheimer’s disease is currently recognised as one of the leading causes of mortality. Forecasts for 2023 predict that mortality rates from dementia and Alzheimer’s are expected to continue to increase.
Apart from the listed above, the following are the most frequent female health-related problems: Fatigue and tiredness, Poor mental health (especially anxiety and depression), Obesity, Diabetes, Osteoarthritis, Autoimmune conditions, PCOS, Endometriosis, Migraine headaches, Health problems associated with hormonal imbalance & stress, fertility and pregnancy problems.
CURRENT AND PAST FEMALE HEALTH STATUS
Generally speaking the female health hasn’t shown a significant improvement compared to the previous generation. In many cases it is even worse. For example, in females living in the UK, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer. Since the early 1990s, breast cancer incidence rates have increased by around 23%. It was found that also mammograms instead of reducing the risk of breast cancer can actually increase it. For women given chest X-rays before the age of 20, the risk of developing breast cancer before their 40th birthday more than doubled.
KEY CAUSES OF POOR FEMALE HEALTH AND HOW TO COPE WITH THEM
One of the main reasons for the continuously poor health status of UK women is the fact that the bad dietary habits among UK women hasn’t changed. Unhealthy diet is continuously the biggest risk factor for preventable diseases in England. Not only cancer, but also diabetes and obesity rates continue to rise. More than a quarter of people in the UK are now obese and a third of 11-year-olds leave primary school overweight or obese. The anxiety, depression and chronic stress this brings, is also affecting health of many women. There is no doubt that the key reason of the continuously poor health of UK women is the “inherited” from generation to generation unhealthy diet and lifestyle.
KEY NUTRITIONAL DEFICIENCIES AMONG WOMEN
According to Linus Pauling (two times Nobel Prize winner), “Nearly all disease can be traced to nutritional deficiency (lack of vitamins, minerals, trace elements, and antioxidants)”. In the UK, women may experience health problems associated with insufficient intake of any vitamin or mineral but the most common (and most responsible for their poor health) is the deficiency of vitamin D, B12, K2, magnesium, zinc, selenium, iodine, and iron.
Unfortunately, plant & animal foods are much lower in nutrients due to the severe soil depletion, fast plant food growth (less time to accumulate nutrients) and other factors. As a result, the food is mostly deprived of a proper amount of nutrients, and only biodynamic farming, not organic, can help to solve this problem because only the biodynamic farming is able to replenish the soil. Organic foods have fewer pesticides and herbicides but they are not significantly higher in nutrients.
What makes the things even worse is the fact that majority of women today consume refined products which are either very low in nutrients or can even “steal” them from their bodies. The most dangerous among them are foods which contain high glucose or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), refined sugar (hidden in many different products), polished rice, and refined flour products such as white bread, doughnuts, cakes, biscuits, or refined pasta. Also, chronic psychological stress and the use of stimulants including very popular in the UK caffeine products, black and green tea, and alcohol, greatly contribute to nutritional deficiencies and poor health.
It is believed that in any cold or cloudy country, such as England, almost every person should be deficient in vitamin D. In America, 90% of the population is deficient in the same vitamin. Surprisingly, also in very hot and sunny countries, the deficiency of this vitamin seems to be rampant. In India, for instance, 80% of people are deficient in vitamin D. The reason for this is two-fold. First of all, people living there do not properly expose their uncovered bodies to the sun on a regular basis around the noon time. The second and equally important cause of vitamin D deficiency is the very common today magnesium deficiency as without enough magnesium in the body vitamin D remains inactive! Another problem is that people with dark skin tone require up to 6 times more sun exposures to maintain healthy vitamin D levels. Dark skin contains more melanin which protects against ultraviolet radiation exposures reducing the production of vitamin D from cholesterol under the skin.
There are some dietary sources of vitamin D, such as certain types of fish or mushrooms, but the consumption of fish is not recommended any more due to high levels of heavy metals and other dangerous chemicals. Mushrooms are often contaminated with dangerous mould. In addition, the concentration of vitamin D in those foods is insufficient to meet our needs. Regular consumption of 1-2 tablespoons of Cod liver oil could help increase vitamin D levels on condition it is free from heavy metals. According to the National Institutes of Health, it gives you 1,350 IU per tablespoon. However, even this amount is not sufficient for adults who need at least 4000 IU every day. Another problem is the bad taste and the fact that 1 tablespoon of cod liver oil may provide as much as 13,500 IU of vitamin A, and that’s way too much. For this reason, proper supplementation with vitamin D3 (with magnesium and vitamin K2) seems to be the only reasonable solution.
SIGNS & HEALTH PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH KEY NUTRITIONAL DEFICIENCIES
The following are most common nutritional deficiencies that impose huge influence on women’s health and greatly contribute to their most common health problems:
Vitamin D deficiency: Low levels of vitamin D are associated with weak immunity, frequent infections, poor bone health, depression, obesity, more than 100 autoimmune conditions, certain types of cancer, high cholesterol levels, multiple sclerosis, hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, eczema, psoriasis, periodontal disease, insomnia, infertility, cystic fibrosis, migraines, Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, and many other conditions. A 2013 study by University of Kentucky researchers found that low levels of vitamin D lead to brain damage. Also, pregnant and lactating women are encouraged to take vitamin D3 supplements (new studies suggest 4000 IU daily is the optimal daily amount of D3 during pregnancy.
Magnesium deficiency: According to Dr Norman Shealy, “Every known illness is associated with a magnesium deficiency. Magnesium deficiency may be responsible for more diseases than any other nutrient.” Do you complain about muscle, stomach and menstrual cramps, spastic colon, difficulty sleeping (even though you feel exhausted), morning sickness (during pregnancy), fibromyalgia, low mood, irritability, feeling anxious without reason, tiredness, poor memory, sugar & salt cravings, or constipation? If you do, maybe it’s time to start being very serious about considering magnesium deficiency.
Zinc deficiency: Weak immunity and associated with it health problems, recurrent infections, hair loss, weight gain or weight loss, tiredness, sleep problems, hormonal imbalance, poor concentration & memory, low mood, white spots on fingernails, dry skin, changes in appetite, salty or sweet foods cravings, low stamina, fertility & prostate problems, lack of sex drive, allergies, insufficient protein digestion, etc.
Vitamin B12 deficiency: Anaemia and any form of chronic vitamin B12 deficiency can be expressed in many different symptoms such as mental fogginess, poor memory and concentration, fatigue, numbness & tingling of fingers or toes, abnormal smoothness of the tongue, dementia, irritation, feelings of apathy and lack of motivation, mood swings, muscle weakness, sleep problems, loss of appetite, constipation, sores at the corners of the mouth, mood disturbances, personality changes, depression, spasticity (a condition in which muscles are continuously tight or stiff), neurological pain, vision changes, incontinence, spasticity of muscles (shaky movements), low blood pressure, vision problems, delusions, hallucinations, cognitive changes, spinal cord damage, etc.
Iodine deficiency: Some time ago, the BBC released a report demonstrated that iodine deficiency has become rampant in the UK. According to one study, 70 per cent of UK girls age 14-15 are iodine deficient suggesting that this problem might be linked to IQ declines. A careful analysis of the scientific research dealing with iodine leads to the conclusion that iodine deficiency could be responsible for many underlying conditions such as goitres or the swelling of the thyroid gland, hypothyroidism (thyroid produces too little thyroid hormone) leading to fatigue and difficulty losing weight, ovary and breast cancer, or fibromyalgia, cold intolerance, dry skin, sleepiness, muscle pain, joint pain, constipation, depression, mental impairment, forgetfulness, menstrual disturbances, impaired fertility, inability to concentrate, etc. Pregnant women are particularly susceptible to possible negative effects of iodine deficiency as adequate levels of this essential mineral are critically important for the proper neural development of the foetus. In addition, iodine deficiency is known as the most common cause of preventable brain damage, mental retardation, and cognitive decline.
Selenium deficiency: Fatigue, thyroid problems, muscle weakness, whitening of the beds of the fingernails, weak immunity, decreased cognition, hair loss, discolouration of the hair and skin, poor growth, infertility, dandruff, premature ageing.
Iron deficiency: Symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia may include the following: fatigue, weakness, pale skin, tingling sensation in the legs, poor memory, dizziness, hair loss, tongue swelling or soreness, depression, anxiety, and breathlessness. Chronic lack of iron may also contribute to the following: Fibromyalgia, inflammatory bowel disease, hypothyroidism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Parkinson’s disease, neurodegenerative conditions, celiac disease, restless leg syndrome, muscle weakness, and decline in motor skills.
Antioxidant deficiency: Weak immune system, premature ageing, tiredness & fatigue, slow metabolism, CVD, neurological damage, increased risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s, autoimmune conditions, cancer, frequent infections, liver problems, etc.
RECOMMENDED NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS FOR WOMEN
Vitamin D3: Experts recommend taking about 2,000-5,000 IU of Vitamin D3 daily with breakfast. Remember to take Magnesium every day as vitamin D without enough magnesium in the body is useless (can’t be converted into its active D4 form in kidneys)! In addition, taking vitamin D supplements lead to magnesium deficiency resulting in sleep problems, muscle cramps, and other symptoms! To maximize the benefits of vitamin D supplementation while also minimizing the potential risk of toxicity and dangerous calcification (to which supplemental vitamin D contributes), vitamin D must be taken with Vitamin K2 (not K1). Vitamin K2 activates the MGP, a protein that helps direct calcium to the right places (bones) and leads calcium away from the undesirable areas (pineal gland, kidneys, joints, colon or arteries) eliminating the risk of hypercalcaemia and calcification of these organs. Apart from Vitamin K2 also Magnesium plays crucial role in proper conversion and absorption of Vitamin D. Vitamin K2 MK7 – based on fermented Natto, is the best form of this vitamin. Take at least 50mcg of K2 for every 1000 IU of vitamin D3.
Magnesium: Take Magnesium of high bioavailability such as magnesium bisglycinate, magnesium citrate tablets or magnesium citrate in powder form (free from binders and fillers): 150-200mg about 30 min before breakfast and the same amount about 1 hour before bed. Due to soil depletion and refined diet millions suffer from magnesium deficiency without even knowing it. Magnesium deficiency contributes to all health problems and it is almost impossible to detect it because it does not show up in blood tests as only 1% of the body’s magnesium is stored in the blood.
Vitamin B12: Take 1,000-2,000mcg of B12 supplement in the form of Methylcobalamin (must be sublingual – dissolved under the tongue) every day only after breakfast. High amounts of supplemental B12 are needed because only about 1% is actually absorbable. Vitamin B12 is the best vitamin to protect nerves from being damaged by high blood glucose levels, toxins, statins and other factors. It is also an excellent energy booster and detoxifier. Deficiency of this vitamin is also very common not only among elderly and vegans but also meat-eaters. All vegans and vegetarians, those on Warfarin (causes B12 deficiency), statins, antacids (low of stomach acid makes B12 absorption impossible), and people over 60 (don’t make intrinsic factor required for B12 absorption) should take 2,000mcg of sublingual B12 every day after breakfast.
Zinc: One or two times a day take about 10-15 mg of Zinc with meals (good quality multivitamin-mineral formulas should contain similar amount). Make sure your zinc formula includes about 0.5 to 1mg of Copper per every 10-20mg of zinc. Other minerals and trace elements such as Selenium, Molybdenum, Manganese, etc. you need, should be included in a well-formulated multivitamin formula.
Iodine: Since the average daily intake of iodine of much healthier Japanese is as high as 14,000 mcg, it looks like we need much more than the recommended 150mcg of iodine a day. The best natural sources of iodine are seaweeds such as Kelp. Including kelp in the form of tablets, capsules or powder as part of your regular diet will ensure you receive adequate amounts of iodine thus supporting your thyroid health and improving metabolism. Using Celtic salt or sea salt instead of refined salt may help to increase your iodine intake too. However, even iodised refined salt, Celtic and sea salt don’t have enough iodine as this mineral evaporates from them over time. For this reason, supplementing is necessary. The best source of natural iodine is kelp.
Iron: It is recommended to get iron from good natural sources such as Super Greens (HealthAid), chlorella, spirulina, black strap molasses, and wheat grass. However, if you are already deficient in this mineral take also Iron bisglycinate regarded as the best iron form due to high bioavailability and because it shouldn’t cause gastric problems (including constipation). Iron bisglycinate is a chelated form of non-heme iron (consists of ferrous iron combined with an amino acid) that passes through the stomach and small intestine without breaking apart. It has been shown to be more effectively absorbed than other types of iron chelate. Iron bisglycinate should be combined with vitamin C for optimal absorption. To prevent an oxidative effect of excessive iron take it with 250-500mg of Alpha lipoic acid. To prevent iron deficiency, avoid coffee, black and green tea.
Antioxidants: Take the following most powerful antioxidant supplements to slow down the ageing process, prolong life, boost energy, protects and strengthen the immune system, heart, nervous system and memory, increase fat and sugar metabolism, improve detoxification and liver function, prevent cancer, and more:
Alpha-Lipoic Acid (250 to 500 twice daily): Very beneficial for a nerve damage in the body (especially when combined with sublingual methylcobalamin form of B12) such as peripheral neuropathy (often caused by statins & chronic high blood glucose), diabetic neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, etc. It also helps people with diabetes, heart damage and cataract. It increases body levels of glutathione and CoQ10, improves skin condition, memory, removes heavy metals from the body and increases energy. Together with Acetyl L-Carnitine helps reduce sciatic pain caused by a herniated disc, lowers blood pressure and was able to improve vascular function in patients with coronary artery disease.
Acetyl L-Carnitine (1 to 2g per day in divided doses): Like Alpha lipoic acid, it gives many benefits for the brain, nervous system, metabolism, heart, immune system, and blood sugar levels. In one study, Acetyl L-Carnitine together with Alpha lipoic acid imposed a huge energising and rejuvenating effect on ageing rats and can do the same for ageing humans. It is even more effective when combined with Alpha-lipoic acid and CoQ10.
L-cysteine (500 to 1000mg a day) or NAC: One experienced physician, who recommended this powerful antioxidant to his patients, wrote that “in certain cases, this supplement can make the difference between life and death.”
Coenzyme Q10 (30-300mg daily with meals): Extremely important especially for heart health and heart function. You must take 100-200mg per day if you are on statins as this popular drug causes a huge deficiency of CoQ10. Deficiency of CoQ10 and Magnesium leads to heart failure and eventually contributes to a heart attack.
Pine Bark extract (such as Pycnolife) is one of the most powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory natural agents. It affects many vital processes in the human body including gene expression, cognition, blood vessels, and metabolism. It neutralizes free radicals protecting body cells against oxidative stress. It also boosts other antioxidant enzymes in the body. It helps regenerate vitamin C and E, slowing down ageing and helping prolong the lifespan. Pine Bark extract has also anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties. It helps reduce allergies and support the immune system and can be very effective in boosting nitric oxide in the human body, which relaxes and protects blood vessels. Pine Bark extract is also a nootropic, helps improve cognition, enhances exercise performance, and benefits people with ADHD, high blood pressure and blood glucose levels.
Glutathione: Often consume the following foods which increase levels of Glutathione (king of all antioxidants): Asparagus, Okra, Garlic, Onions, Rice bran, Mangosteen, Chlorella, fresh Dandelion leaves and fresh Nettle leaves (rinsed with a very hot water to prevent stinging), Chickpeas, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Maca, Turmeric, Lentils, Parsley leaves, Collard greens, Kale, Brazil nuts, Mustard greens, Radish, Turnip, Watercress, Bok Choy, Rosemary, Berries, Avocado, Peaches, Watermelon, Beets, etc. Keep in mind that cooking (heating) reduces the glutathione content of vegetables by 30-60%! Canning is even worse as it almost completely destroys glutathione!
In addition to the above, you also need a good quality multivitamin such as Healthy Mega as it high in B vitamins and contains 42 ingredients.
FemmeVit is an excellent multivitamin for menstruating women while Menovital is superb multivitamin during and after menopause.
Unless you really need it, make sure you don’t take additional iron if it is included in your multivitamin.
Written by Slawomir Gromadzki, MPH
Any information or product suggested on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition. Never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. Consult your primary healthcare physician before using any supplements or making any changes to your regime.