Men and women are created equal, but they sure have their differences. For this reason, most women could benefit from a little nutritional tailoring to their specific needs. Below, well cover three fundamental nutrients that nearly every womanand every manufacturer who is considering making a supplement for womenshould consider.
Sorry, guys, we had to leave you out this time!
Supplement Basics for Women
Simply put, no supplement program is complete without the following nutrients, so they definitely deserve an early mention. Heres what just about everyone should be taking:
These nutrients are fundamental to fighting disease and aging, and yes theyre equally appropriate for both genders.
Maca Supplements for Women
Maca is an herb native to South America. Traditionally, its been used for hundreds of years for different conditions, including infertility. Today, maca is used by many women but mostly to alleviate menopause symptoms.
According to one study, up to 87 percent of women using maca reported improvements in menopausal symptoms, which included hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings.1
Maca has also been shown to enhance libido, which is something a lot of women struggle with these days.2 Other benefits include anti-depressive and anti-anxiety effects.3
Saffron Supplements for Women
Many women (if not most) complain of battling with food cravings and weight issues. Saffron combats both by targeting a womans brain chemistry.
It appears to inhibit the re-uptake of dopamine and serotonin,4 two neurotransmitters which play a key role in mood and appetite.
According to research, saffron can help to minimize snacking. In one study, women taking 176.5 mg of saffron extract per day, for eight weeks, decreased two-fold their in-between-meal snacks.
They reported a reduced need to snack, and after eight weeks, they lost about two pounds without dieting.5
Cruciferous Vegetable Extracts for Women
Most women will not develop breast cancer in their lifetime, but all women should take measures to prevent it. And one of the best ways is to increase the intake of cruciferous vegetables.
Broccoli and kale, for example, contain a protective compound called I3C, which has anti-tumor effects that were shown in vitro and in vivo.6
I3C has a good effect on estrogen metabolism. It increases the production of weaker forms (i.e. estriol7) of estrogen, which are protective, and it decreases the production of stronger forms (i.e. 4-hydroxyestrone8), which are implicated in breast cancer.
Iodine Supports Healthy Hormone Balance
Iodine's main role in animal biology is as a constituent of the thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These are made from the amino acid tyrosine, and are stored prior to release in an iodine-containing protein called thyroglobulin.
T4 and T3 contain four and three atoms of iodine per molecule, respectively. The thyroid gland actively absorbs iodine from the blood to make and release these hormones into the blood, actions that are regulated by a second hormone TSH from the pituitary.
Thyroid hormones play a basic role in biology, acting on gene transcription to regulate the basal metabolic rate. But iodines effects go way beyond thyroid hormone production. Theres emerging evidence that it also regulates estrogen metabolism in women.
Dr. Jonathon Wright has presented research showing that iodine helps to decrease potent forms of estrogen while increasing protective forms of the hormone. And Dr. David Brownstein, in his book Iodine: Why you need it and why you cant live without it, presents research that iodine deficiency results in increased ovarian estrogen production as well as increased sensitivity of estrogen receptors in the breast.
T his article was co-written by Maylin Rodriguez-Paez, RN.
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2. CNS Neurosci Ther. 2008 Fall;14(3):182-91..
3. Menopause. 2008 Nov-Dec;15(6):1157-62.
4. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2004 Sep 2;4:12.
5. Nutr Res. 2012 May; 30(5): 305-13.
6. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2012 Jul 20;424(1):45-51.
7. Nutr Cancer. 1991;16(1):59-66.
8. Nutr Cancer. 2001;41(1-2):57-63.