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Staying Vibrant at Every Age: Powerful Nutrition to Promote Women’s Health

Women’s bodies undergo many changes, evolve over time and have differing needs throughout each stage of life as hormones and body compositions shift with age. 

During their 20s-30s young women may be more focused on whole-body health, menstrual integrity and supporting the processes of fertility, pregnancy and childbearing. In their 40s-50s that focus can shift to concerns such as how to stay physically active, bone health, promoting longevity and moving through the stages of menopause in a healthy way. In the 60s and beyond, emphasis tends to focus on healthy aging, maintaining energy and strength and core strategies to ensure optimal health, avoid injury and maintain independent living throughout the golden years. 

For women of all ages, the prevention of disease processes and focusing on healthy lifestyles should always be a primary and ongoing focus. Good nutrition is a fundamental component for all of these goals.


As young women enter adulthood, lifestyle and nutrition are paramount and if they have goals to support fertility and pregnancy these things will take on many other layers to support the healthy development of a baby. Optimizing these aspects of self-care not only help the health of the reproductive organs and/or a developing baby, they also provide a solid foundation and healthy terrain for every young woman pursuing whole-body health

Lifestyle considerations for whole-body health can include: regular exercise, limiting alcohol consumption (or eliminating alcohol if pregnant or trying to conceive), maintaining a healthy weight, minimizing stress, avoiding environmental toxins that can affect hormones and getting enough sleep. 

Young women should strive to consume nutrients found in everyday foods that are super-charged to support metabolic processes crucial for general health and/or for childbearing:

  • Omega-3s (Fatty fish such as salmon/mackerel/tuna, walnuts, flax and chia seeds)
  • Folate (Dark leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, turnip greens and beef liver)
  • Choline (Meat, eggs, poultry, cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts/broccoli/cauliflower, and some types of beans, nuts and seeds, such as sunflower flower seeds)
  • Selenium (Brazil nuts – one a day is a supreme source and important for reproduction) 
  • Iron (Red meat, beans, lentils and spinach)

For pregnancy, a prenatal multi-vitamin is standard along with other supplements that may augment nutritional status. Young women should also understand that adequate nutritional intake, particularly of protein and calcium, while young will affect their status and bone health as they reach middle age. 

Sleep and Stress Strategies

All women should work to get adequate sleep and reduce stress. For sleep in particular, certain nutrients, herbs or supplements can be beneficial:

  • Magnesium 
  • B vitamins
  • Herbs such as Tulsi, Ashwagandha or Passion Flower (Many herbal ‘sleep’ teas or supplements on the market will contain these).
  • Melatonin (Note that in pregnancy, melatonin levels naturally rise and supplementation may not be advised and should be discussed with your OBGYN). 

Talking to your healthcare provider before taking any supplements or vitamins is strongly recommended.

Stress management is also important to health and well-being at every age. Chronic stress can impact many markers of health, contribute to hormone imbalances and also be a contributing factor to infertility.

Stress management techniques such as yoga, meditation, acupuncture or deep breathing techniques can help alleviate stress. Adrenal adaptogens like Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, lemon balm and ginseng may also help smooth harder transitions in life or help build resilience to stress. Adrenal adaptogens are plants (or fungi like mushrooms) that help your body respond to stress, anxiety and fatigue and help restore overall well-being. These can often be taken by adding them to food or beverages or taking them as tinctures

40s-50s and Beyond

As women continue to mature, many of the aforementioned strategies still hold true. However, all women will eventually find themselves transferring their focus to menopause, hormonal issues, maintaining strength and energy, working on cardiovascular health, looking forward to preventing disease and laying a foundation for longevity.

Bone health is a common concern and it actually begins earlier in life. It is important for younger women to have adequate protein and calcium intake and to establish good bone-strengthening habits such as exercise. In addition to calcium, other minerals are just as crucial and women should ensure that they are eating foods that contain them:

  • Calcium (Dairy, sesame seeds and green leafy vegetables)
  • Magnesium (Green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains)
  • Manganese (Nuts, pineapple, beans, shellfish, chocolate, cinnamon and tea)
  • Boron (Prunes, raisins, dried apricots and avocados)
  • Selenium (Wheat, red meat and seafood)
  • Silicon (Cereals, carrots and green beans)

In addition, vitamins C, D, K and herbs such as red clover, black cohosh or kudzu may also be beneficial in supporting the health of the skeletal system.

Perimenopause, menopause and hormonal health takes the spotlight as we hit our 40s. This is a gradual process as the body makes less and less estrogen. Perimenopause lasts until the ovaries stop releasing eggs, menstruation stops and menopause begins. Typical symptoms include irregular periods, mood swings, trouble sleeping, fatigue, weight gain, breast tenderness, PMS, vaginal dryness and reduced sex drive. 

In addition to maintaining weight, exercise, proper sleep and stress management, nutrition can be a primary strategy to support healthy hormone levels:

  • Minimize refined carbohydrates (breads, pastas) and eat less sugar
  • Upcharge your diet with more vegetables, healthy fats (olive oil, avocado), fruit and high-quality protein sources
  • Combat inflammatory substances with more cruciferous vegetable, brown rice and detoxifying drinks like green tea
  • Zinc or zinc-containing foods support healthy testosterone levels (and possibly improved sexual function)
  • Consuming soy and soy isoflavones may reduce intensity and frequency of hot flashes
  • Hormone supportive herbs, such as tribulus and maca may help in the support of healthy libido and black cohosh and/or chaste tree have been shown to ease symptoms surrounding menopause and may also be beneficial.

As we head into our 60s and beyond, growing evidence is showing that natural healthy habits such as nutrition/supplements/botanicals, lifestyle and community are all important to healthy aging. Regulating inflammation, cancer prevention, brain health and monitoring conditions such as osteoporosis are also imperative to prevent injury and help older adults maintain vitality and independence. Doctors of chiropractic not only help women of every age optimize joint integrity and mobility but also help to maximize function for neuromusculoskeletal health, analyze risks for possible conditions, can help you retain testing for concerns such as osteoporosis and can advise on lifestyle and nutritional choices to help women stay vibrant and strong through every stage of life.

Beyond the Bottle: Navigating Acetaminophen Awareness

Acetaminophen is a common medication used for relieving a variety of discomforts such as: back pain, mild to moderate pain from headaches, cramping from menstrual periods, muscle aches, arthritis, tendonitis, toothaches, colds, flu, sore throats and it can also be used to reduce fever. The product is readily available over-the-counter (OTC) and is also used in a variety of OTC and prescription strength ‘combination’ medicines. Combination products are consumables that contain more than one active ingredient to treat more than one symptom. For example, cold and flu remedies may contain multiple active ingredients to address aches, pains, cough and fever.

More than 600 common prescription and over-the-counter medications contain acetaminophen as an active ingredient. It has become so mainstream that many people don’t realize that acetaminophen is responsible for over 56,000 emergency department visits annually in the U.S. and is the most common cause of acute liver failure in the U.S., Europe and Australia. Toxicity caused by acetaminophen use is also the second most common cause of liver transplantation worldwide.

Roughly 8 in 10 Americans routinely reach for OTC pain pills for discomfort and most people are unaware that these medications can be just as dangerous as prescription drugs if used incorrectly.

Dangers in the Dose

Individuals occasionally utilizing OTC acetaminophen as directed for something like an infrequent headache or menstrual cramps is not the concern as long as consumption is kept at or below the recommended dosage for a very short period of time. Ongoing and multiple daily doses trying to mask acute or chronic pain bring much higher risks for overconsumption and damage.

With the wide availability of OTC medications, it can be easy for people to underestimate the dangers involved or to inadvertently ‘double dose’ and take too much, especially if they are taking multiple products that each contain acetaminophen and they don’t realize it. Further, more potent prescription medications already contain much higher concentrations of acetaminophen and many combine it with an ingredient like codeine (an opioid) which can cause additional layers of threat or abuse.

Some consumers may try to address their pain at home with a medication that they have generally perceived as safe and then if they feel more unwell, they may try to take even more of it for relief, not realizing the potential risks. More is not better.

Whether overdose is intentional, or unintentional, the toxic effects on the liver are the same. Even in therapeutic doses, studies have shown that ongoing use creates an elevation in liver enzymes. When cells of the liver become damaged and no longer can handle the amount of acetaminophen in the body, then toxic intermediate stages of drug breakdown do not get processed and can result in life-threatening damage.

It is important to note that acetaminophen toxicity is a common cause of acute liver failure in children and adolescents, perhaps because they don’t read the labels, understand combination products or because they don’t understand that even OTC medicines have dangers. Symptoms of acetaminophen toxicity may include outward signs such as: abdominal pain, irritability, general weakness, loss of appetite, irritability, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, jaundice (yellow appearance of whites of eyes and skin), convulsions or coma.

Avoiding Acetaminophen Overload

With the harm and risks associated with prescription and OTC painkillers, finding drug-free natural solutions to address pain are more important than ever. Chiropractic care is working on the forefront of this issue and has had a long history of effective nonpharmacological care for back pain, headaches, sprain/strain injury and a variety of other conditions. Doctors of chiropractic (DCs) understand neuromusculoskeletal pain, optimizing the function of the joints and supporting the surrounding soft tissues with a natural approach to help patients minimize the need for harmful analgesics.

In the battle to educate the public about the proper use and dangers of acetaminophen, DCs can work to help educate patients and suggest public service websites such as that strive to bring more awareness to the importance of this issue. To learn more about Catie’s Cause, listen to the Adjusted Reality Podcast episode featuring the organization’s founder, Karen Smith.

When consumers do opt to reach for acetaminophen, the following tips are provided to help guide safe usage and avoid overdose or abuse:

  • Always read and follow the labels. Never take more than directed (dose or frequency).
  • Pay special attention to dose levels for age and body weight, particularly for children.
  • Keep all medicines out of reach of children.
  • Do not mix acetaminophen with alcohol.
  • If you have to take medications for pain more than a few days, talk to your doctor about other alternatives so that pain medications don’t become an unhealthy habit.
  • If taking more than one OTC or prescription medication, ensure that you aren’t getting more than one dose of acetaminophen. Pay special attention to combination medicines that have more than one active ingredient. (Eg. don’t take acetaminophen for headache and fever and then inadvertently take it again within a cold and flu combination product).
  • When buying OTC products, get in the habit of telling the pharmacist what other medications you or your child are taking and ask if adding acetaminophen is safe.

If at any time you suspect that you or a family member may have taken too much acetaminophen, timing is a vital factor in the treatment for possible toxicity. Go to the Emergency Room or call 911 as soon as possible (ideally within 8 hours of ingestion or shorter time frame) to achieve the best possible outcome for the patient.

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