Marie ParksWe get a lot of questions from women wondering which specific supplements (if any) they should be taking. .
For starters, the basic "foundational" supplements such as a multivitamin, CoQ10, and fish oil apply universally to both men and women. However, as many women know, their specific requirements can be very different than men.
In this post, we’ll talk about three more supplements that all women should be taking. Note that we're not including hormone balance here, since it’s a complex topic and suggestions vary greatly from woman to woman.
Indole-3-Carbinol (I3C) Protects Against CancerDon’t be turned off by its scientific sounding name! I3C is a compound found in cruciferous vegetables and is widely studied for its hormone-modulating ability.
All women produce estrogen (even those who have gone through menopause), and all estrogen follows one of two pathways — it converts to 16-alpha-hydroxyestrone, or it converts to 2-hydroxyestrone.1 For the sake of simplicity, we’ll refer to them as 16-α and 2-hydroxy.
When there’s a higher amount of 16-α, the risk for developing cancers such as that of the breast and cervix is increased. On the other hand, when there’s a higher amount of 2-hydroxy, the risk of these cancers is decreased.2,3
I3C has shown the ability to modulate the estrogen pathway, supporting the conversion of estrogen into the protective 2-hydroxy, as well as reducing levels of the more dangerous 16-α.4,5
Also of interest is that the National Cancer Institute has determined I3C to be more powerful than over 80 other natural substances shown to be associated with reducing cancer risk.6
Cranberry Extract Protects Against UTIsUrinary tract infections (UTIs) are the most common type of bacterial infections.7 UTIs are caused by the attachment of bacteria such as E. coli to urinary tract cells, resulting in pain, urinary frequency, and in some cases can lead to kidney infection.
Women are more prone to UTIs than men because they have shorter urethras, making it easier for bacteria to get to the urinary tract. In fact, by age 24, one third of all women will have had a UTI that requires antimicrobial therapy.7 Once a young woman has contracted a UTI, their reoccurrence risk is 20%.8
The normal treatment for UTIs is antibiotics that can have various undesirable side effects. Research has shown that more natural and safe alternatives exist!
Cranberry extract has proven the ability to block harmful microbes from binding and colonizing in the urinary tract, thereby reducing the risk of infection.9-12
A study of older women with recurrent UTIs showed that cranberry extract was about as effective as antibiotics at preventing infections, but without any of the dangerous side effects!13
Vitamin D is Critical for WomenThis might seem obvious since vitamin D is important for so many aspects of health. However, vitamin D is particularly crucial for women.
Vitamin D has been shown to block cancer-stimulating signals while enhancing signals that inhibit cancer growth.14-17 Research has shown that women who have vitamin D levels around 52 ng/ml have approximately a 50% lower risk of developing breast cancer, as compared to those with levels lower than 13 ng/ml.18
Furthermore, vitamin D is also required for strong bones which is important since women have a higher risk of osteoporosis than men.19,20
Most people require around 5,000 IU of vitamin D per day to maintain a desirable blood level.
The Bottom LineYou don’t necessarily have to take handfuls of supplements to keep your health up to par. In addition to a solid foundational regimen, if you're taking I3C, cranberry, and vitamin D, you should be pretty well-covered.
Keep in mind that there are certain people who may have specific health concerns or issues that could require additional supplements. For assistance developing an individualized plan, feel free to contact our Wellness Specialists at 1-800-226-2370!
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- Available at:
http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/Kudiseases/pubs/utiadult/#risk. Accessed May 12, 2016.
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- Can J Urol. 2002 Jun;9(3):1558-62.
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- Eur J Cancer. 1999 Nov;35(12):1717-23.
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- J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2007 Mar;103(3-5):708-11.
- Osteoporosis International. 2008 April;19(4):385-97.
- J Bone Miner Res. 15: 322–331.
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