Nutraceuticals For Women’s Health: Everything You Need To Know
Posted by Dr. Anish Desai
Women and men share many similar health problems, but women also have their own health problems that deserve special attention. Women of different age groups suffer from various health problems including gynecological health and disorders such as menstruation and menstrual irregularities, urinary tract health, bacterial vaginosis, vaginitis, uterine fibroids. Pregnant women need pre-pregnancy care and prenatal care. Disorders related to infertility These include uterine fibroids, polycystic ovary syndrome, and endometriosis. Adult women are also at risk of uterine, ovarian, and cervical cancers.
Education over the past few decades has ensured that women are aware of the fact that they should be consuming essential nutrients in the right amount. Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals that have specific functions in the body. The type and amount of micronutrients change with age.
Nutraceuticals, products made from food sources with added health benefits in addition to the basic nutritional value found in foods, contain multiple ingredients with multiple effects that can work together to produce health benefits. Today women are looking for ways to not only help manage symptoms, but also protect their heart and improve bone health. More evidence on women’s health nutraceuticals needs to be created to aid claims and clinicians in clinical decision-making.
Adolescence is a transition period between childhood and adulthood, when puberty begins in girls between the ages of 10 and 13. Good nutrition is required to support physical growth and reproductive maturity during puberty. Sometimes failure to eat adequate nutrition at this point can result in delayed sexual maturity and delayed or retarded physical growth. Nutritional status and physical growth are interdependent, so optimal nutrition is a prerequisite for achieving full growth potential. Adolescent girls can benefit from multivitamins (A, B, C, D, E), minerals (zinc, calcium, phosphorus), healthy fats and proteins.
Premenstrual syndrome: Menstrual cramps are a very common condition in pre-menopausal women, occurring in about 50 percent of women from their first menstruation. Cramps can worsen in women as they age due to hormone imbalance and other related conditions, including uterine fibroids. Nutraceuticals have anti-inflammatory and smooth muscle relaxing properties. Due to the presence of ginger, evening primrose, valerian, dong quai, chasteberry, and black haw, they could be used to treat menstrual disorders.
Poor intake of calcium, zinc, and iron, as well as other essential nutrients, in teenagers is attributed to poor eating habits, and a sedentary lifestyle is common these days. A lack of essential micronutrients can lead to a low body mass index (BMI), weak bones, or even infertility.
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are one of the most common bacterial infections in women, and women are 30 times more likely to develop UTIs than men. The most common nutraceuticals used to treat urinary tract infections are cranberry and bearberry.
Of childbearing age
Endometriosis is a painful condition in which tissue similar to the tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus – the endometrium – grows outside your uterus. It causes pelvic pain, irregular menstruation, and possibly even infertility. Nutraceuticals like garlic, curcumin, aloe vera, resveratrol, inositol, genistein, Danshen, and Rosaceae can be beneficial in treating the symptoms of endometriosis through several mechanisms.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) occurs due to a hormonal imbalance and can affect women of any reproductive age. Women with PCOS experience irregular or prolonged periods, acne, weight gain, mood swings, excessive hair growth, and the risk of infertility. Supplements can help overcome PCOS complications such as immature egg release, insulin levels, excessive male hormone secretion, and antioxidant properties. According to many clinical studies, some of the nutraceuticals have shown positive effects on improving PCOS and fertility in women with no side effects and with improved health benefits.
The need for micronutrients, which include vitamins, minerals and trace elements, increases even further during pregnancy. Prenatal vitamins contain more nutrients that you will need during pregnancy. The most important nutrients during pregnancy are folic acid, iron, calcium, magnesium, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), iodine, and vitamins A, B6, B12, C, and D. While prenatal vitamins are not intended to replace the healthy eating plan, they can Prevent nutritional gaps by providing extra micronutrients that are in high demand during pregnancy.
Nausea and vomiting during pregnancy can have a significant impact on the quality of life and pose a significant health risk for some women. Ginger has been used to relieve nausea associated with morning sickness. Inadequate milk production is the most common reason for stopping breastfeeding. A number of women have turned to nutraceuticals like fenugreek and milk thistle to stimulate milk production.
Menopause symptoms like hot flashes can range from mildly annoying to life changing. There is growing evidence that adequate calcium intake reduces bone loss and the risk of fracture in postmenopausal women. The most important nutraceuticals for women are calcium, fish oil, folic acid, vitamin B, vitamin D, the coenzyme Q10 and lutein. Menopausal symptoms can be treated with nutraceuticals like pycogenol, melatonin, vitamin E, black cohosh, valerian, red clover, soy, licorice, rhubarb, and chasteberry linseed.
Osteoporosis occurs after menopause due to low levels of estrogen and bone density is lost much faster. Nutraceuticals that can protect against osteoporosis include vitamin D, calcium, red clover, soy, genistein, and liquorice.
Breast cancer prevention is especially important for postmenopausal women because the risk increases with age. Many nutraceuticals used for women’s health are likely to have additional health benefits, including antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and chemopreventive activities. Red clover, soy, humulus lupulus (hops), milk thistle and angelica sinensis (dong quai) are being studied for the prevention of breast cancer.
The author is MD. FCP. PGDHEP Director, Intellimed Healthcare Solutions and Chief Expert of the Medical and Scientific Advocacy Board, ENAC
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