Minerals are essential nutrients that are required for optimal health in both women and men. Mineral imbalances can lead to osteoporosis hot flashes, infertility, anemia, fatigue, PMS, hormonal imbalance, and a variety of other health care concerns. Mineral requirements vary for women at different stages of their health life. For example, a woman during her reproductive years is more likely to have an imbalance in iron levels due to her menstrual cycle. On the other hand, a woman that has entered menopause may need to avoid iron supplementation as it could lead to oxidation, an inflammatory process that affects women’s health. Although there are a variety of minerals, and trace minerals that are needed for optimal health, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, selenium and iodine (usually) are the 5 1/2 essential minerals for women’s health and hormone balance.
Women’s health and Calcium:
When most people hear the word calcium, they think of bones. It is estimated that 98-99% of all of the calcium in our bodies in located within our bones and teeth. Osteoporosis affects about 55% of Americans over the age of 50. Of these that have been diagnosed, nearly 80% are women. Poor bone health is responsible for millions of fractures throughout the world annually. Studies indicate that calcium, when used with vitamin D, can decrease the risk of fracture by nearly 20%. Osteoporosis, and calcium imbalance is aggravated by hormonal imbalances, specifically with estrogen in menopausal women. In addition to bone health, calcium is also needed for muscle activation, immune health, nerve signaling, and cellular health.
Women’s health and Magnesium:
Magnesium is also needed for optimal bone health. Additionally, magnesium assists in energy production, hormonal development, making new proteins, muscle activation, and nerve communication. The Journal of the American College of Nutrition (Vol. 12, NO. 4, 442-458) demonstrated significant applications involving magnesium and women’s health. For pregnant women, magnesium can help delay preterm birth, and prevent eclampsia, or seizure activity in a pregnant woman that was not epileptic before conception. Preeclampsia symptoms include headaches, increased blood pressure, and vision changes. Magnesium has also been shown to help in PMS, muscular cramping and spasm, and migraine headaches.
Women’s health and Iron:
Anemia occurs when an individual has less than normal red blood cells, or when the red blood cells do not have enough hemoglobin. In both instances, the blood is not able to carry oxygen efficiently throughout the blood, and the cells of the body do not work as well as they could. Women and individuals with chronic diseases are at a higher risk of anemia. One of the most common causes of anemia in women, is iron deficiency anemia, as a result of blood loss during their menstruation cycle. Common symptoms of anemia include fatigue, weakness, headaches, cold hands and feet, rapid and/or irregular heartbeats, shortness of breath, and numbness. The most effective way to screen for iron deficiency is with a ferritin blood test.
Women’s health and Zinc:
Zinc deficiency can be a result of certain medications, excessive alcohol consumption, poor dietary habits, hormone replacement therapy, and birth control. Vegetarianism and individuals with digestive imbalances can also be at risk of zinc imbalances. Zinc deficiencies can lead to a variety of symptoms, including altered smell and taste, craving sweets and salty foods, fatigue, brain fog, ringing in the ears and poor bowel function. Low zinc levels can lead to increased estrogen activity, infertility, PMS, and leads to a decrease in sex drive. Zinc imbalances also increase the effects of aging and makes it it harder to tolerate stress.
Women’s health and Selenium:
Dietary selenium comes from a variety of nuts, seeds, meat, fish, and eggs. Selenium is most known for its antioxidant properties, and protection from free radicals. Free radicals are natural byproducts from oxygen metabolism and have been linked to a variety of chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer, and autoimmune conditions. Selenium also helps to regulate thyroid hormone activity, and immune health. The Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology reports that selenium has a strong relationship between the regulation of glutathione (antioxidant), estrogen, progesterone, follicle-stimulating hormone, luteotropic hormone, and thyroid hormone activity.
Women’s health and Iodine:
Iodine strongly influences nutrient metabolism in both men and women. It assists in detoxification, nerve activation, and hormone regulation. Iodine can help to create stronger hair, nails, and skin health. As important as iodine can be, women with hypothyroidism may need to avoid this nutrient it supplemental forms. Some researchers estimate that women with hypothyroidism have a 90% chance of generating an autoimmune response to iodine. Blood testing for thyroid peroxidase (TPO) is essential for women experiencing hypothyroid activity before increasing iodine consumption. For women with positive TPO antibodies, additional iodine can aggravate fatigue, hormonal imbalance, and stimulate autoimmune activity.
Women’s health and Essential Minerals for Hormone Balance
Mineral deficiencies can dramatically affect the hormonal balance of women. Symptoms such as fatigue, PMS, menopause, thyroid imbalance, weight gain, brain fog, decreased sex drive, poor hail and nail quality, hot flashes, and more can all be the result of mineral deficiencies. Analyzing a patient’s medical history, laboratory tests, and dietary habits will provide a trained clinician the information needed to support the symptoms that result from mineral deficiencies.
Unsure if your symptoms are a result of mineral deficiencies? Stop suffering, and contact a trained clinical nutritionist today.