Although men and women are susceptible to many of the same diseases, the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of women's health concerns can vary greatly from those of men. Because these differences have finally been recognized by modern medicine, a special "Women's Health Month" has been designated to help educate and inform physicians and the general public.
Women's Health Concerns
Heart disease is the #1 killer of women, although for many years it was mistakenly thought that women were less susceptible to heart disease. Cancer is # 2, with lung cancer (not breast cancer), being predominant. Stroke, diabetes, and osteoporosis are also major women's health concerns. Menopause and peri-menopause aren't diseases, but female hormone changes can cause many uncomfortable side effects and may predispose to other illnesses (such as osteoporosis) and premature aging. SO, let's get this first "Ask The Doctor" column AND Women's Health Month off to a strong start by exploring some simple ways to prevent common health problems. (Don't worry, gentlemen I'll have plenty to say about men's health in upcoming columns!) .....
What Women Need: The Basics
1.) A High-Quality Daily Multiple Vitamin/Mineral Supplement
Optimal (not just minimal) doses of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants should be the foundation of every good health program. Such optimal doses of nutrients are virtually impossible to obtain from diet, even a "good diet," because modern food processing and agricultural practices have left our food supply depleted. In addition, we are exposed to many more pollutants, stresses, impure water and contaminants in our environment, increasing our need for these protective antioxidants.
Taking vitamins is a wise health and prevention measure. Deficiencies of vitamins and minerals cause many diseases. Adding vitamins and minerals in supplemental form is an inexpensive "insurance policy" against some of the worst diseases of modern times. Consider just a few reasons to take a good multiple vitamin/mineral formula:
A deficiency of antioxidant vitamins and minerals (especially beta carotene, vitamins C & E, and selenium) is associated with higher incidence of cancers of the colon, breast, prostate, mouth, lungs and skin. Some researchers believe that antioxidant vitamin and mineral deficiencies may be related to higher incidence of all cancers.
A mineral deficiency, especially magnesium and potassium but also calcium, is associated with high blood pressure and cardiac arrhythmia.
Deficiencies of vitamins E, C, B6, B12, folic acid (a B vitamin), and bioflavonoids are associated with cardiovascular disease. The connection between vitamin E and heart health is so well established that conventional medical cardiologists are instructed to recommend vitamin E to their patients.
Healthy bones, and the prevention of osteoporosis, depend on sufficient levels of minerals, including calcium, magnesium, boron, zinc, copper, B vitamins, and vitamin D.
Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and diabetes (high blood sugar) occur more frequently in people who are chromium deficient. After diabetes is present, low levels of vitamins A, C, E, plus zinc, selenium, choline, bioflavonoids and B complex vitamins are associated with more complications from the disease.
This list could go on for pages, but you get the idea. Deficiencies of key vitamins and minerals are correlated with disease. The best health insurance may not be an expensive medical policy, but the addition of sufficient vitamins to fill in the gaps in our day-to-day nutritional status.
2.) Essential Fatty Acids
Essential Fatty Acids, especially Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids, are an absolute requirement in the human diet, hence the term "essential."