In this issue:

Dear Readers,

This Thursday, I am doing my first Webinar (live seminar on Internet), hosted by Dr. Lorne Brown, Clinical Director of the Acubalance Wellness Centre. The topic is "Symptom-Free Menopause." During this FREE interactive Webinar, you will be able to see me on your computer screen and ask me questions. You will need speakers or headphones attached to your computer, and please ensure that they work in advance of the session. There are only 100 spots available so sign in early. I am very excited to try this new technology and I plan to use Webinars to communicate with you in the future.

Watch My January 28th, 2010, Webinar About Hormones

Love Lorna

Preventing and Treating Hair Loss in Women

Q: My hair is falling out and thinning quite a lot. It is all over my bathroom floor when I brush my hair and now I can see that the top of my head is getting very thin. Why is this happening?

A: Hair loss in women can be caused by several factors, e.g.
  • low thyroid
  • low iron
  • high testosterone
  • autoimmune disease (rarely)
Have your doctor order some blood tests to check your thyroid, hemoglobin, ferritin and testosterone.

Your TSH should be below 2. Anything above 2 can cause hair loss. If you have a TSH above 2 but below 5.5, then you should start on THYROSMART 2 capsules per day.

As for your hemoglobin and ferritin, you do not have to be anemic to lose your hair. Simple low iron will cause huge hair loss in women. Start on Floradix if your iron is below normal. Ferritin determines how much iron is stored in the body and it can take up to a year on iron supplements to improve ferritin levels.

High testosterone should be controlled using ESTROSMART 2 capsules per day.

Beautiful thick hair will be achieved if you address the underlying problems mentioned above. Add Collagen Plus (10 drops or 2 capsules a day) and a great multivitamin with minerals (containing zinc) to improve hair growth and strength of the hair.

The amino acids in protein are building blocks for thick, shiny hair and strong nails. Women need to consume at least 30 grams of protein per day. To show you how difficult this is for most women, understand that an egg is a perfect protein. The egg contains 6 grams of protein and is what all other proteins are measured against. So with that in mind, I use a protein powder containing up to 30 grams of protein per day. Pick a protein powder that does not contain artificial colors or flavors and pick one with a taste you love. I add vanilla protein powder to plain organic yogurt for breakfast in the morning to ensure that I have all the protein I need for the day.

Pomegranate Inhibits Breast Cancer Cell Growth

Women concerned with breast cancer prevention should eat more pomegranates and drink pure pomegranate juice. Protective compounds in this multi-seeded red berry have a suppressive effect on the growth of breast cancer cells. This was just confirmed in a study in the January 2010 journal Cancer Prevention Research by researchers from the City of Hope Hospital in Duarte, California and the University of California in Los Angeles. Pomegranate is an excellent source of antioxidants linked to improved heart health, prostate cancer prevention, and slowed cartilage loss in arthritis. We also know from previous research that ellagic acid in pomegranates inhibits enzymatic activity that converts male hormones to estrogen hormones that can spur breast cancer. This newer study focussed on ellagitannins in pomegranates. Researchers found that ellagitannins (which the body converts to ellagic acid) potentially prevent estrogen-responsive breast cancer. In addition, a metabolite of ellagic acid in the body called urolithin B significantly inhibited the proliferation of cancer cells in vitro. According to the researchers, the results of these analyses suggest that consuming pomegranate may be an excellent strategy to prevent breast cancer. Independent researchers have called the results intriguing and encourage more research on pomegranates.

The Pill and HRT Deplete Important Bone and Heart Nutrients

Note: This excerpt is from my latest book A Smart Woman's Guide to Heart Health (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2010), available in bookstores next month.

The interesting relationship between hormone replacement therapy (HRT), cardiovascular disease, and the minerals calcium and magnesium was examined in a 2004 review published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. Magnesium researcher Dr. Mildred Seelig, MD, and her cohorts looked at research on estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) and/or hormone replacement therapy (i.e. combined synthetic estrogen and progestins). They considered small-scale studies, clinical practice, and the large-scale Women's Health Initiative (WHI) trial. While the WHI trial was halted prematurely due to increased cardiovascular complications, a few favorable findings (e.g. the lessening of hip fractures) that seemed to support estrogen use had been found. These researchers wanted to understand why. They considered these paradoxical results within the context of female nutritional mineral status and suggested that the amounts of dietary calcium and magnesium consumed by most North American women (including the study participants) is an important factor in understanding these findings.

Dr. Seelig pointed out that although a high intake of calcium is routinely advised to protect against osteoporosis, high calcium-combined with low magnesium-might have contributed to the adverse cardiovascular effects noted in the WHI study in women who took HRT. These cardiovascular effects were largely due to clotting complications: heart attacks, strokes and blood clots. Although the body's estrogen has been credited with improving the blood lipid (fat) profile, increasing nitric oxide secretion, dilating coronary arteries, as well as having beneficial endothelial and anti-inflammatory effects, estrogen is also known to have a blood-clotting effect. Calcium, Dr. Seelig and her associates pointed out, could have made these effects worse. On the other hand, magnesium inhibits many steps in the clotting process and counteracts blood stickiness. Unfortunately, the typical North American's consumption of magnesium is very low.

Similarly, it was speculated that low magnesium contributed to the unfavorable mental effects found in women on estrogen in a later branch of the WHI study. Dr. Seelig and her colleagues examined how, through various mechanisms, magnesium enhances the beneficial effects of estrogen on the central nervous system. As well, they noted magnesium's ability to improve cerebral (brain) blood flow and protect against the deposition of a plaque implicated in dementia (Alzheimer's disease).

The results of Dr. Seelig's review support the supplementation of magnesium in postmenopausal women who are on estrogen alone or HRT. This concept is not, in fact, new. As early as the 1960s, magnesium was studied in relation to oral contraceptives, also a synthetic estrogen supplement. By 1970s, this mineral's protective anti-clotting effect was noted as important in order to protect oral contraceptive users from the associated risks of estrogenic birth control. At the same time, we know that postmenopausal women taking synthetic estrogen excrete more magnesium via the urine and experience irregularities in internal magnesium distribution that result in lower blood levels. Studies in postmenopausal women who took synthetic estrogen or conjugated estrogen/progestins have shown that as serum (blood) estrogen and progesterone levels increase, so does calcium-but magnesium decreases. The combined effect on these hormone-induced changes is sufficient to affect heart health directly, especially if a woman is already suffering from low magnesium levels. In younger women who are not yet in menopause, magnesium's relationship to the female sex hormones is equally important to heart health. Estrogen secretion is responsible for the better utilization of magnesium in the body and higher levels of intracellular magnesium in cardiovascular tissue. Magnesium supports numerous cardiovascular functions and protects against cardiac damage. Clearly, in considering the role of hormones in relation to calcium/magnesium in the body, it is very important that all women-especially those on The Pill or ERT/HRT -ensure optimal levels of dietary magnesium.

The role of magnesium in relation to postmenopausal bone health is important as well. When estrogen production decreases in menopause, the resulting bone loss (as evidenced in research looking at hip fracture incidence and osteoporosis rates) is a concern. As previously noted, calcium is promoted as the primary mineral needed for bone health and hardness. However, calcium alone is not the answer. High calcium without accompanying magnesium poses risks to the cardiovascular system and does not support a healthy bone matrix. Dr. Seelig and her associates postulated that magnesium is the missing element when it comes to postmenopausal bone health. Although some research has indicated a beneficial (if short-term) effect of supplemental estrogen on bone health, it is estrogen and magnesium that are required for the matrix that provides bone flexibility, which is necessary for osteoporosis prevention. In animal studies, magnesium deficiency has been associated with weaker bone matrices, and diminished bone flexibility and strength. Most human studies have indicated a connection between low bone magnesium and osteoporosis. A deficiency in all-important magnesium impairs the metabolism of vitamin D (which is also needed for strong bone health), affects the functioning of hormones responsible for bone building, and interferes with calcium regulation.

Third only to cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis, cognitive loss (including dementia) is a distressing problem among postmenopausal women and, once again, magnesium plays an underappreciated role in its prevention. Studies that have looked at hormone supplementation to treat this aspect of female aging remain controversial. A later arm of the WHI study was actually halted due to safety concerns that showed an increase in mental decline amongst the 2,132 ERT patients; twice as many also developed dementia compared to the 2,215 women in the placebo group. Nevertheless, it is known that the body's natural estrogen has profound brain- and mood-enhancing effects, including the modulation of neurotransmission (the relaying of electrical messages between nerves). Estrogen's positive effect of blood lipids slows atherosclerosis not just in the arteries but also in the brain; estrogen also enhances cerebral blood flow, and protects against inflammation and degenerative breakdown. Just how does estrogen do all this? Dr. Seelig suggested that estrogen's important role in the enhancement of intracellular magnesium might be a key. Among its many beneficial mechanisms, magnesium supports healthy muscle and artery function, and thus increased blood flow to the brain. Further, this mineral's calcium-blocking ability prevents calcium uptake in the brain after brain damage, and magnesium also protects against cerebral oxidative stress and free radical damage.

In summary, although the therapeutic value of estrogen and calcium have received the bulk of attention when it comes to postmenopausal health, magnesium's role should not continue to be overlooked. Within the cardiovascular system, magnesium protects against the blood-clotting effects of too much estrogen and/or calcium. Related to osteoporosis prevention, magnesium is essential for hormone and mineral regulation resulting in strong bone health. Through a variety of mechanisms, this mineral protects cerebral integrity and blood circulation. For all these reasons, it is imperative for women- particularly women of postmenopausal age-to obtain optimal levels of magnesium through eating a diet rich in magnesium-rich vegetables, and by supplementing accordingly.