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From Supporting Energy to Relieving PMT: The Best Supplements for Women's Health

According to your period tracking app, it’s almost that time (of the month) again… “will I get a headache?” … “how’s my skin looking?” … “Have I got cramp-relief to hand?” you think to yourself. While menstruation hits every woman differently, biologically women’s iron demands are increased during this time and many experience unwanted cyclical symptoms at some stage of our lives.  

As a fundamental component of haemoglobin (a protein found in our red blood cells), iron is key to transporting oxygen throughout the body, fueling our cells and ensuring peak performance. Sadly, many women do not get enough iron in their daily diet, which can compromise your energy and zest for life. In addition, the monthly hormonal fluctuations leading up to your period can bring about a range of uncomfortable symptoms for some women, including breast pain, sleep issues and low energy.

In this blog, we delve into two supplements that can help to assist healthy iron levels and relieve common symptoms of PMT, working to support women’s health and wellbeing.

Ironing out Insufficiency 

Most people know that menstruating women need more iron. But did you know that a whopping 23% of Australian women don’t meet the daily requirement for this essential mineral?¹

Not eating enough iron-rich foods is most common in females aged 14 to 50 years, with nearly 2 in 5 women reporting inadequate intake!¹ Foods rich in iron include beef, chicken, canned sardines, whole grains, nuts, red lentils, kidney beans, black beans and leafy greens,so make sure you are including at least some of these in your weekly shop.  

What’s more, there’s a growing interest in plant-based diets (namely vegan and vegetarian), which people undertake for environmental, health and religious reasons. Unfortunately, the non-haem iron found in vegetarian foods is unfortunately not as easy to absorb as the haem iron present in animal products.3 It probably comes as no surprise that vegetarians tend to have lower iron stores than omnivores.4 This is because components like calcium, zinc or phytates (found in legumes and grains), plant polyphenols and vegetable protein can all inhibit the absorption of non-haem iron.5  The news isn’t all bleak though as you can easily increase dietary absorption of non-haem iron by including vitamin C with your meals.6 Good dietary sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, capsicum, kiwi fruit, tomatoes and strawberries7, or a quality vitamin C supplement can also help.

When dietary intake is inadequate, an iron supplement can be helpful to reduce fatigue and support energy levels. Completely vegan friendly, our Mega Iron contains an easily absorbed form of iron known as iron diglycinate. Reducing fatigue in healthy adults, Mega Iron maintains healthy iron levels and stores of vitamins B6, B12 and folate that assist healthy red blood cell production8.

A Rose by Any Other Name 

If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you’re no stranger to the monthly woes of premenstrual tension (PMT), a medley of uncomfortable cyclical symptoms including mood swings, tender breasts, fatigue, food cravings and irritability.9  If you or your loved ones experience any of these symptoms you likely know that PMT can negatively affect most aspects of your life, including interpersonal relationships, work performance, social activities and general wellbeing.

Thankfully, there is a natural oil that can help from the inside out! Have you heard about evening primrose oil? Extracted from beautiful evening primroses, it can help to relieve symptoms of PMT10, assist with general wellbeing, and even ease symptoms of mild eczema and dermatitis.11 Evening primrose oil has two types of omega-6-fatty acid including linoleic acid and γ-linoleic acid, which are responsible for some of its beneficial effects.10 Our Hi-Strength Evening Primrose Oil is easy to take – you can even squeeze the capsule contents into milk or juice if you don’t like swallowing capsules.

Beyond supplementation, holistic practices like regular yoga12 and listening to music that you love13 have also been shown to improve symptoms of PMT.

The Best Supplements for Women’s Health 

Ethical Nutrients has a range of other supplements designed specifically to support women’s health, including:

  • Healthy Hair, Skin & Nails – For Strong Nails, Healthy Hair & Skin Elasticity 
  • Estrovera – Plant-Derived Relief for 8 Common Menopause Symptoms 
  • Urinary Tract Support – Reduce Symptoms of Urinary Tract Infections*, as used in traditional Chinese medicine 
  • Fem Biotic – Gut & Female Urogenital Support When on Antibiotics 

 *Urinary Tract Support reduces symptoms of medically diagnosed cystitis, a common form of urinary tract infection.

References

  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Food Standards Australia and New Zealand. Australian health survey: Usual nutrient intakes. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2015. Accessed January 24, 2024.  https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/health-conditions-and-risks/australian-health-survey-usual-nutrient-intakes/2011-12#essential-minerals
  2. Harvard School of Public Health, The nutrition source: iron. Updated March, 2023. Accessed January 24, 2024.  https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/iron/
  3. Young I, Parker HM, Rangan A, et al. Association between haem and non-haem iron intake and serum ferritin in healthy young women. Nutrients. 2018;10(1):81. doi: 10.3390/nu10010081 
  4. Haider LM, Schwingshackl L, Hoffmann G, Ekmekcioglu C. The effect of vegetarian diets on iron status in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2018;58(8):1359-74. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2016.1259210 
  5. Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, New Zealand Ministry of Health. Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand: Iron. 2006. Accessed January 24, 2024. https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/sites/default/files/2022-04/n35-iron_0.pdf 
  6. Gulec S, Anderson GJ, Collins JF. Mechanistic and regulatory aspects of intestinal iron absorption. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2014;307(4):G397–G409. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00348.2013 
  7. Harvard School of Public Health, The nutrition source: vitamin c. Updated March, 2023. Accessed January 24, 2024.  https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-c/ 
  8. Koury MJ, Ponka P. New insights into erythropoiesis: the roles of folate, vitamin B12, and iron. Annu Rev Nutr. 2004;24:105-131. doi:10.1146/annurev.nutr.24.012003.132306 
  9. Better Health Channel. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Updated September 20, 2023. Accessed January 24, 2024. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/premenstrual-syndrome-pms 
  10. Mahboubi M. Evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) oil in management of female ailments. J Menopausal Med. 2019;25(2):74-82. doi:10.6118/jmm.18190 
  11. Yoon S, Lee J, Lee S. The therapeutic effect of evening primrose oil in atopic dermatitis patients with dry scaly skin lesions is associated with the normalization of serum gamma-interferon levels. Skin Pharmacol Appl Skin Physiol. 2002;15(1):20-25. doi:10.1159/000049385 
  12. Ghaffarilaleh G, Ghaffarilaleh V, Sanamno Z, Kamalifard M, Alibaf L. Effects of yoga on quality of sleep of women with premenstrual syndrome. Altern Ther Health Med. 2019;25(5):40-47. Accessed January 24, 2024. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31221931/  
  13. Solt Kırca A, Kızılkaya T. Effects of music medicine on premenstrual symptoms levels and quality of life: A randomized controlled trial. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2022;46:101542. doi:10.1016/j.ctcp.2022.101542
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