The Impact of Nutrition on Women’s Health

During my nursing career, I have treated thousands of women with hormone imbalance. Hormones play an integral role in nearly every aspect of women’s health and at all stages of life. While most female patients are familiar with issues pertaining to declining estrogen levels and menopause, women tend to be surprised when we tell them they need to be concerned about testosterone levels, too.

Once patients are educated about hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and the benefits of balancing sex hormones—testosterone, estrogen and progesterone—can provide, it’s critical to discuss how proper nutritional support is critical to the success of a HRT treatment plan and optimal health. It’s also important to be proactive about monitoring thyroid hormone levels, as well as the nutrient deficiencies that compromise thyroid function.

The prevalence of nutrient deficiency in the U.S. today is overwhelming—its not limited to the impoverished—and nutritional support is more important than ever to achieve and maintain optimal health.

Nutrient deficiency is commonplace in the United States

As most integrated and functional medical practitioners know, far too many of patients suffer from one nutrient deficiency if not several. This is largely due to the fact that people in the U.S. eat a whole lot of processed, fat- and sugar-laden junk food. Those foods don’t provide the nutrients a healthy diet can.

As I discuss in my book, Hormone Havoc, Dispelling the Myths about Hormones in Women and Men, the U.S. food supply is also facing a mineral and nutrient crisis. Several factors can potentially contribute to a decline in the nutrient content of food, including:

  • Soil depletion caused by overuse of soil and the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
  • Modern farming practices, like monoculture, genetically modified crops and the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
  • Food processing, where nutrients are lost due to exposure to heat, light and air.
  • Long transportation times, which naturally leads to loss of nutrient content and taste.
  • Breeding crops for yield and appearance, which may also lead to loss of nutrient content and taste.

Research published in the journal Nutrients has also shown that nutrient deficiencies are prevalent in the U.S., especially for those who don’t consume an adequate diet. The research, which only focused on the biochemical status of vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, folate and anemia, revealed that 31 percent of Americans were at risk for at least one vitamin deficiency and anemia.

In addition, the risk for deficiency was most common in women ages 19–50 (41 percent), and pregnant or breastfeeding women (47 percent). The research also showed that those who consumed an adequate diet had a lower risk of any deficiency (16 percent) compared to those with an inadequate diet (57 percent).

Now, integrated and functional medicine practitioners perform much more in-depth lab tests when treating patients with HRT because we know certain nutrients are critical for supporting hormone metabolism and optimization. This includes several key minerals like magnesium, iron, iodine, selenium and zinc, just to name a few. This is true if we’re treating the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause in women, andropause in men or other health conditions related to hormone imbalance.

Top Three Nutraceuticals to Support Hormone Balance

Along with dietary changes, many practitioners prescribe professional grade nutraceuticals as part of a comprehensive hormone replacement therapy treatment plan. The nutraceuticals prescribed are based on each patient’s individual needs but I commonly prescribe the following nutraceuticals for patients on HRT.

EvexiPEL® HRT Complete

We developed this multi-nutrient formula specifically to promote hormone metabolism and balance. HRT Complete is truly a big bang for your buck nutraceutical. The nutrients in the formula include:

  • DIM (diindolylmethane), a plant compound commonly found in cruciferous plants, which has been shown to support estrogen metabolism, antioxidant activation, detoxification processes, inflammation control and more.
  • Sulforaphane, a sulfur-rich nutrient that plays a key role in the metabolism of estrogen and promotes the activation of antioxidants. This powerful nutrient may also help ward off inflammation and diabetes, among other health benefits.
  • Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), an antioxidant naturally produced in the body that declines with age, helps promote lipid (fat and cholesterol) metabolism, which is critical for hormone balance. CoQ10 may also be prescribed to treat endocrine related disorders and provide other health benefits.
  • Methylated B Vitamins (B6, B12, Folate), are essential for hormone optimization because they help the body metabolize and detoxify hormones. They also promote the production of enzymes needed for estrogen metabolism, among other benefits. Methylation is what makes vitamins “body ready” (30 percent of the population has difficulty utilizing B vitamins).

HRT Complete is available in two versions, which contain all of the nutrients above as well as PrimaVie® in HRT Complete (T) and FenuSMART® in HRT Complete (E). PrimaVie® contains shilajit an antioxidant-rich nutrient which may promote absorption of other antioxidants like CoQ10, energy, endurance and healthy aging, while significantly increasing testosterone levels. FenuSMART contains the herb fenugreek, which has been shown to provide numerous benefits, including helping to support healthy estrogen levels and ward off insulin resistance.

Learn more about the nutrients in HRT Complete and their benefits here.

ADK

ADK is a balanced formulation of the vitamins A, D3 and K2. Along with supporting hormone optimization, this powerful combination of nutrients has also been shown to support calcium absorption, bone health and heart health. Each vitamin provides numerous health benefits on its own but those benefits are enhanced when the vitamins work in conjunction with each other.

Learn more about the benefits of ADK and the vitamins A, D3 and K2 here.

Iodine Complete

No discussion of hormone optimization would be complete without discussing thyroid hormones. Improper thyroid function can result in a number of troublesome disease states, including hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), Hashimoto’s disease and others.

The thyroid gland requires several nutrients to produce, convert and regulate thyroid hormones, while aiding thyroid metabolism. Iodine Complete is a comprehensive formulation designed to promote thyroid health. Along with iodine, a critical component of thyroid hormones, the formula also includes:

Zinc, essential for producing hormones and converting T4 (inactive thyroid hormone) to T3 (active thyroid hormone).

Selenium, also critical for converting T4 to T3 and has been shown to be beneficial for patients with Hashimoto’s disease.

Potassium, critical for supporting adequate thyroid hormone production and may reduce risk for certain thyroid conditions.

Learn more about the benefits of iodine and Iodine Complete here.

Gut health should also be evaluated when treating hormone imbalance

Gut health is one of the most important topics I discuss with patients during consultations about hormone optimization. Not only do poor diets lack in essential nutrients, eating junk food on a regular basis can wreak havoc on the gut, not to mention hormone balance. Over time, this can lead to the condition known as leaky gut, where the lining of the small intestine is compromised allowing undigested food particles, toxins and other harmful substances to leak into the bloodstream.

In addition, gut dysbiosis, where harmful bacteria overwhelm the good bacteria in the gut, can lead to a multitude of health issues. As I discuss in Hormone Havoc, there is a wealth of recent clinical data that points to an altered gut microbiome as a root cause of inflammation.

I will take a deeper dive into gut health in an upcoming blog but in regard to hormone optimization, proper gut health is critical. In fact, the gut and hormone balance are closely linked, as the gut microbiota plays an important role in regulating the production, metabolism and balance of hormones throughout the body.

In order to improve gut health, it is essential for patients to change their eating habits and ascribe to a diet, like the Mediterranean diet, which has been shown to promote gut health. Patients may also benefit from probiotics, which help promote a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut microbiome.

Learn more about the benefits of probiotics like Active Probiotic ND 50 here.

Want to learn more about nutraceuticals and hormone optimization?

If you are a patient who isn’t experiencing the full benefits of hormone optimization or you would like to know how hormone replacement therapy may benefit you, a EvexiPEL Certified healthcare practitioner can help. You can search for a practitioner here.

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