My hormones are out of whack. My PMS makes me depressed. My period gives me headaches. There’s plenty of issues that can arise within a woman’s body. Sometimes it can be extremely frustrating searching for answers. These issues can get in the way of living life, they can affect moods, cause pain, fertility issues and affect your overall wellness. The more you can understand about your body, the better you can work toward creating balance. Women have struggled for years with misinformation and a lack of resources. But with the proper knowledge, you can feel empowered to make the changes that can help give you a better life.
Let’s start with a crash course in what your body needs from the foods you eat. Nutrients are broken down into two categories, micronutrients and macronutrients. Macronutrients are the big parts of our diet—the carbs, proteins and fats that we all know and love. Then, micronutrients are the essentials that we need in much smaller quantities. This includes vitamins and minerals like calcium, Vitamin C, folate and copper.
Just because your body only needs a very small amount of minerals doesn’t make them any less essential. In fact, minerals are the elements that your cells need to function, and that enables your body to work properly too. Since these minerals are so crucial to a healthy body—including balanced hormones and a properly functioning thyroid—it’s important to understand what they are and how they work.
Just think of minerals like the spark plugs for your body. In a car, spark plugs are the initial element that powers your car. In the same way, minerals are what make your cells run, meaning they are the foundation in which the body works. If you do not have the right mineral balance, it is nearly impossible to heal your hormones, support thyroid function, and get your gut to work correctly.
Let’s break down these micronutrients into the two types of minerals. These are macro and trace minerals.
Macro minerals are appropriately named. They’re the most important and are found in the largest quantity in the body. Why are they so important? Because balancing these minerals can help improve numerous conditions and issues particularly for women. So let’s get to know them better:
We learned about the importance of these macro minerals, but it’s important not to forget about the smaller players in the mineral-health and wellness connection. If you’ve ever taken a multivitamin, you’re probably already aware of many of these elements. Here are a few examples:
They are known as trace minerals because the amount our bodies need to be healthy is very small compared to other nutrients. It’s important to understand that minerals have an interconnected relationship with each other. For instance, many women who struggle with anemia assume they need to up their iron levels. However, when our copper levels are low, this can cause a negative impact on the body’s own iron recycling system. Therefore, just taking an iron supplement won’t be helpful and too much iron may in fact cause more health problems then it solves.
Because we only need a very small amount of trace minerals, it’s easy to think of them as insignificant. Although they may come in small quantities, these minerals provide significant health benefits when balanced properly. For instance, a zinc deficiency can contribute to symptoms such as brain fog, bowel problems, infertility, PMS and stress intolerance.
As you can see, minerals play an essential role in contributing to proper functioning of all of our bodies’ systems. It’s also important to note the interconnectivity of minerals. Although multivitamin marketing might have us thinking we just need to “fill up” our supply of each of these minerals all in one pill, it’s not quite that simple.
One low level of a certain mineral may not be corrected by just consuming lots of this mineral. Instead, it may be caused by low levels of an entirely different mineral. It’s this interconnectivity that creates the need for personalized analysis, rather than a one-size fits all model of nutritional supplements. This “there’s a pill for that,” model can cause more harm than good. We aren’t looking for full capacity when it comes to minerals, we’re looking for balance. Here’s some of the biggest issues surrounding multivitamin supplements:
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a metabolic disorder which can cause infertility and be a contributing factor to many conditions from anxiety and high blood pressure to diabetes and heart disease. It’s also fairly common in young women. In the US for example, over 5 million women of reproductive age suffer from PCOS.
Ensuring you have the proper levels of magnesium, sodium, iodine and potassium can all be helpful in supporting the thyroid and addressing PCOS. Taking steps to support proper gut health can also help to improve the symptoms of PCOS. One of the main concerns for women with PCOS should be their insulin resistance and blood sugar balance. Excess iron is also a concern and should be examined when addressing PCOS.
Stress is a fact of life for many women. But did you know that long periods of stress can cause the body to burn through minerals and deplete healthy levels? This can become a vicious cycle of depleting the body’s reserves and then feeling fatigued and more anxious due to these mineral deficiencies causing disruptions to our hormones and systems. Minerals such as calcium, zinc and magnesium can help boost our moods and also fight off the symptoms of depression. This is another reason why it is so important to make sure your mineral levels are properly balanced and take corrective steps when they are not.
Menstrual periods look and feel differently for every woman. Many women ask the question: “What does a normal healthy period look like?” Although there’s no one definition of a “normal” period, your cycle can give an indication of your overall health and mineral balance. Ideally, a period should last for several days and not disrupt your everyday life. Excessive bleeding, minimal bleeding, drastic changes in mood, energy or intense cramping can be signs that your body isn’t entirely in balance.
Other signs may include stomach issues before a period or bowel issues before or during periods. Minerals can be a good place to begin looking into for clues to deficiencies or an overabundance of a nutrient. Potassium, for instance, can help support thyroid and blood sugar levels, which can help to support healthy periods. Topical magnesium can help with cramping. If you feel like your period is sending you a message, it’s important to listen to your body. Learn more with the Healthy Starter Period Guide. These symptoms could be signs of hormonal imbalance in women, which can be corrected by first balancing the body’s minerals.
Minerals play a part in nearly all of the body’s systems and functions. Since minerals are especially tied to the thyroid and hormone production, it makes perfect sense that minerals can affect fertility and contribute to infertility.
From stress to diet, our lifestyle can negatively impact our hormone levels, causing a cascade effect of symptoms. Many women turn to supplements as a quick fix to perceived mineral and nutrient deficiencies. But this can sometimes backfire, particularly where hormones are concerned. Too much of one mineral can cause a deficiency in another. Women who are attempting to conceive can benefit from a mineral test, before making the leap to taking expensive hormone tests, which may not provide the insight necessary to treat their deficiencies.
Menopause can be a confusing time full of unexpected physical symptoms as well as mental and emotional changes. You may be wondering if there are nutrition changes to make during menopause. Period issues during menopause are quite common. As we age, our ability to absorb some minerals becomes less efficient. Without menstruating, iron can begin accumulating in the body, which can have a negative impact on mineral balance and contribute to increased inflammation. Finding the right balance of minerals during and after menopause can help women minimize some of the symptoms of menopause as well as equip their body for greater longevity.
The first step to correcting any imbalance in your body is to understand what your current mineral quantities are. Without this information, you could take mineral supplements that do more harm than good, further contributing to your deficiencies. To begin, you can take the Mineral Imbalance Quiz. This will help tell you if you may have low, moderate, or a high risk of mineral imbalances based on the symptoms and answers you provide. Beyond this investigation, there are lifestyle changes that help you properly balance the mineral and hormone makeup in your body.
Minerals provide the foundation for good health and wellness. Not only do minerals play a role in healthy periods and fertility, but they can also contribute to our moods and mental state, our weight and digestion and even our ability to slow down aging and ensure a strong immune system. Because minerals interact with each other, obtaining the proper mineral balance in your body requires a comprehensive understanding of how they interact. To learn more about your body’s minerals, download our Mineral Training and Minerals Cheat Sheet. It’s a great place to begin your journey to balanced minerals, healthier hormones and overall wellness.