Updated: Mar 1
Breast cancer can affect women with no risk factors, and today constitutes the most common non-skin type of cancer among women. But since the 1980s, rapid developments in screening have enabled researchers to better understand the processes behind how breast cancer may manifest itself, as well as what vitamins are good for breast health.
Yet, in 2020 alone, World Health Organization reported that over 650.000 women globally were notified by their doctors that they have breast cancer. This is a great cause of concern among women, especially those in the post-menopause period, who are at a higher risk of developing potentially deadly forms of breast cancer.
But all is not lost. As mentioned above, our increased understanding of breast disorders means that certain techniques and supplements have now been shown to help combat the different forms of breast disorders or prevent them altogether.
Some of these techniques are well-known, such as maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, and regular screening. But there are also little things we can do to give our system that little bit of extra grease to promote breast health while also supporting our overall health as well.
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What is breast health?
Breast health refers to the overall well-being of the breasts and the tissues and systems that support them. This includes ensuring that the breasts are free from diseases or abnormalities, such as breast cancer or cysts, and that they are functioning properly.
Breast health also involves maintaining healthy breast tissue and supporting the health of the surrounding muscles, ligaments, and skin.
Taking care of breast health involves engaging in self-examinations, getting regular breast cancer screenings, and making lifestyle choices that support overall health, such as exercising, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption.
There is an easy way to keep track of all of this:
Which vitamins are good for breast health?
Are you worried about your breast health? Did you know that there are certain types of vitamins that can prevent cancer and improve your overall health? These are the vitamins that you should look out for:
Vitamin D, also known as the “sunshine vitamin,” helps to regulate the level of phosphate and calcium in our bodies. This is critical to keep our bones, teeth, and muscles healthy. But recent studies also indicate that it may be among the most effective vitamins against breast disorders, chief of these being breast cancer.
However, according to Healthline, up to 42% of American adults consistently have suboptimal levels of vitamin D. This kind of deficiency can lead to many ailments in the long term, such as cognitive impairment, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, rickets, and, of course, breast cancer.
The number of studies pointing at a clear correlation between higher vitamin D levels and breast cancer prevention is rapidly increasing. For example, one such study in 2017 showed that women who received vitamin D supplementation were approximately 50% less likely to develop breast cancer on average.
For most people, the ball of light in the sky is all that is needed to sustain healthy levels of vitamin D for about half the year. Therefore, from March to October, most people should be able to get all the vitamin D they need from the sun. However, alternative sources of vitamin D can be utilized when the sun seems out of reach for prolonged periods. Yet, according to the National Library of Medicine, over one billion people worldwide are facing vitamin D deficiency.
Below are some of the most common sources of vitamin D:
Oily fish, such as salmon, herring, and mackerel Egg yolks
Fortified foods, such as fortified milk or breakfast cereals
Vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 are both accessible as dietary supplements. However, vitamin D3 has been demonstrated to be more beneficial against breast diseases. Patients who have little sun exposure, are older or have darker skin, which makes it more difficult to synthesize vitamin D from sun exposure, are frequently prescribed a vitamin D supplement.
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin. It dissolves in water and is distributed very easily but requires regular intake as it is not stored well within the body. It plays a major role in controlling infections and healing wounds and is a potent antioxidant capable of neutralizing harmful free radicals.
Some common ailments vitamin C helps protect against are hyperthyroidism, anemia, gum disease, and scurvy. The recommended daily amount of vitamin C for adults over the age of 19 is 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women. However, this intake may need to be increased for smokers or during pregnancy.
Luckily, vitamin C is readily available in many common foods for those not too keen on the idea of using supplements.
Some of the best natural sources of vitamin C are:
Vitamin C is also widely available as a supplement. Doctors particularly recommend time-release vitamin C, which releases slowly, meaning you can maintain healthy levels without having to take multiple tablets throughout the day.
Vitamin E’s primary functions are to help maintain healthy eyes and skin and boost the body’s natural defense against illness and infections. It is found very widely in common food items. And any amount of vitamin E that is not needed immediately is stored efficiently within the body, meaning that you do not require a daily intake.
It has also been suggested that regular vitamin E intake may be beneficial for breast health, with studies showing a correlation between higher levels of vitamin E and reduced levels of breast cancer.
However, this conclusion is being contested within the scientific community. Still, even if it does not majorly affect breast health, vitamin E is very beneficial for many other processes in our bodies.
Some common natural sources of vitamin E are:
Peanuts and almonds
Butternut squash Avocados
Vitamin E is found in most supplements in the form of alpha-tocopherol. This synthetic form of vitamin E is different from those found in natural foods. However, it can still be a good addition to your list of supplements as it has been shown to be very beneficial for several conditions in addition to supporting breast health.
Vitamin B6 is also a water-soluble vitamin found naturally in many food items. It is commonly measured as Pyridoxal 5’ phosphate, which is the active coenzyme form of B6.
Vitamin B6 is a truly all-around health booster, assisting over 100 enzymes to perform various functions including the breakdown of macronutrients, supporting immune function, and brain health, and has recently been shown to enhance the body’s defense mechanism against breast cancer.
Vitamin B6 deficiency negatively affects the body’s immune system and has been linked to an increased possibility of developing breast disorders. Failing to consume enough vitamin B6 can also lead to several other conditions such as microcytic anemia, dermatitis, glossitis, and depression.
National Institutes of Health recommends a daily dose of 1.3 mg for adult males, and 1.2 for females. However, this required dose increases to 1.9 mg during pregnancy.
Some of the most common natural sources of vitamin B6 are:
Fortified breakfast cereals
Vitamin B6 is also available in supplement form, and is recommended by doctors for children and teenagers to promote improved cognition as well as a proper breakdown of sugars, fats, and proteins.
Bonus: Fish Oil!
While not exactly a vitamin itself, fish oil contains many components that are extremely beneficial for breast health as well as a plethora of other bodily functions. The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil fight against any sort of inflammation in the body, which prevents the formation of a suitable environment for breast disorders.
Most fish oil is also very rich in vitamins A and D, which are also directly linked to a lower likelihood of breast cancer. In addition, studies have also shown the active role of omega-3 fatty acids in combating cancer by preventing toxicity within the body.
However, health practitioners advise a level of caution when consuming fish as certain species like ling and fresh tuna. A rule of thumb when choosing which fish to purchase is to opt for smaller, sustainably caught fish like anchovies and sardines, as these have been shown to contain very minimal levels of mercury.
Fish oil supplements are also very commonly used as dietary supplements. A popular fish oil supplement is Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega, which contains 1,100 mg of combined DHA and EPA, sourced from wild-caught anchovies and sardines.
What are the benefits of vitamins for breast health?
Vitamin supplements are not a cure-all. However, they can help to provide nutritional support that may help ward off some health conditions. And vitamins for breast health can be especially helpful when it comes to:
1. Vitamins can help maintain breast health
Many vitamins can help in increasing breast health and preventing breast cancer among women. In fact, vitamins have anti-oxidant properties which help treat cancer if it has already manifested, helping to catch the disease early before it becomes life-threatening.
These antioxidants help fight free radicals in the body and prevent cells from becoming more susceptible to being damaged by carcinogens by destroying these carcinogens that may still be inside your body.
2. Vitamins can reduce the risk of developing certain diseases
It is true that certain vitamins may help to reduce the risk of developing certain diseases. For example, vitamin D has been shown to help reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis, a disease that causes weak and brittle bones. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that may help protect against certain types of cancer, including breast and prostate cancer.
Folate, or folic acid, has been shown to reduce the risk of birth defects and may also help to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, such as colorectal cancer. Vitamin C helps to boost the immune system, which may help to protect against infections and certain diseases.
Vitamin A is important for maintaining healthy skin and tissue and may help to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, such as lung and oral cancer. It is important to get an adequate intake of these vitamins through a healthy diet or supplements to help reduce the risk of certain diseases.
3. Vitamins can increase energy levels
Certain vitamins can play a role in increasing energy levels. For example, vitamin B12 is important for the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body. When the body is deficient in vitamin B12, it can lead to fatigue and a lack of energy.
Vitamin B12 can be found in a variety of foods, including meat, fish, dairy products, and fortified cereals, or it can be taken as a supplement.
Other B vitamins, such as vitamin B6 and vitamin B9 (also known as folate or folic acid), are also important for energy metabolism and can help to increase energy levels. In addition, iron is important for carrying oxygen to the cells, and a deficiency in iron can lead to fatigue and low energy levels.
Getting an adequate intake of these vitamins through a healthy diet or supplements can help to increase energy levels.
4. Vitamins can reduce stress
There is some evidence to suggest that certain vitamins may help to reduce stress and improve mood. For example, vitamin B6 is involved in the production of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, which are involved in mood regulation.
Vitamin B6 can be found in a variety of foods, including chicken, fish, whole grains, and bananas, or it can be taken as a supplement. Vitamin B12 is also involved in the production of neurotransmitters and may help to improve mood and reduce stress.
In addition, vitamin C is an antioxidant that may help to reduce the effects of stress on the body, and vitamin D has been shown to have a positive effect on mood.
5. Vitamins can improve digestion and absorption
Certain vitamins can play a role in improving digestion and the absorption of nutrients from the food we eat. For example, vitamin A is important for the health of the mucous membranes in the digestive system, and vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium, which is important for strong bones.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that may help to protect the cells in the digestive system. In addition, vitamin K is important for the production of proteins that are involved in blood clotting and bone health, and it also plays a role in the absorption of minerals.
6. Vitamins can help strengthen bones
Certain vitamins are important for maintaining healthy bones. Vitamin D is essential for bone health, as it helps with the absorption of calcium, which is a key mineral for strong bones. Vitamin D can be found in a variety of foods, such as fatty fish, egg yolks, and fortified dairy products, and it can also be produced by the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight.
Vitamin K is also important for bone health, as it helps with the production of proteins that are involved in blood clotting and bone metabolism. Vitamin K can be found in a variety of foods, including leafy green vegetables, dairy products, and eggs.
Getting an adequate intake of these vitamins through a healthy diet or supplements can help to strengthen bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis, a disease that causes weak and brittle bones.
7. Vitamins can improve the immune system
There is some evidence that certain vitamins and minerals may help support the immune system. For example, vitamin C is thought to help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals, and it is also involved in the production of collagen and the functioning of white blood cells.
Vitamin D may also play a role in immune health, as it helps regulate the immune system and plays a role in the production of antimicrobial peptides, which are molecules that help fight off infections.
However, it is important to note that while vitamins and minerals can be beneficial for immune system health, they are not a substitute for good hygiene, a balanced diet, and other healthy lifestyle practices that can help support a healthy immune system.
8. Vitamins can reduce the risk of developing mastitis
Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast tissue that can cause symptoms such as redness, swelling, and pain in the affected breast. It is most commonly seen in women who are breastfeeding, but it can also occur in non-breastfeeding women and men.
While there is some evidence that certain vitamins may help reduce the risk of developing mastitis or other infections, it is important to note that there are many factors that can contribute to the development of this condition. For example, poor hygiene, breast trauma, and certain underlying medical conditions can all increase the risk of developing mastitis.
If you are concerned about your risk for this condition, it is a good idea to speak with a healthcare professional for personalized advice.
9. Vitamins can improve the appearance of the skin
Vitamin A (also known as retinol) is involved in the production of collagen, which helps keep the skin plump and youthful-looking. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that may help protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals, and it may also help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Vitamin E is another antioxidant that may help protect the skin from damage and improve its overall appearance.
Can vitamins keep breast cancer from coming back?
No vitamins or supplements have been shown to decrease the risk of breast cancer recurrence as of yet. However, many of the vitamins outlined in this list have been proven through regular examination to be beneficial for breast health, which by itself is the primary deterrent to breast disorders.
It must also be noted that most specialists advise obtaining the necessary vitamins and minerals through natural sources rather than supplements.
This is because regulatory legislature for the manufacture and distribution of supplements vary depending on the country. And in the US, these vitamins can be sold as dietary supplements, which means they are not subject to extensive examination to prove their effectiveness.
Breast health is a very complex issue. And we need to consider many things when looking to improve it, such as exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and regular check-ups.
Nevertheless, the vitamins examined in this list are rooted in concrete foundations in terms of scientific analysis and, for most women, may be very beneficial to avoiding severe illnesses.
What are the signs of unhealthy breasts?
There are several signs that may indicate unhealthy breasts. These include changes in the size or shape of the breasts, dimpling or puckering of the skin, nipples that are turned inward or inverted, discharge from the nipples, redness or scaling of the skin, and lumps or bumps in the breasts.
It is important to pay attention to any changes in the breasts and to report them to a healthcare provider for evaluation. It is also important to get regular mammograms and breast exams as recommended by a healthcare provider in order to detect any potential problems early.
Breast care: How can I improve my breast health?
Here are a few things you can do to promote breast health:
Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, so it's important to maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise.
Exercise regularly: Regular physical activity has been shown to help reduce the risk of breast cancer and other types of cancer. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercises, such as brisk walking or cycling, on most days of the week.
Eat a healthy diet: A diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other plant-based foods and low in processed and sugary foods may help reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Limit alcohol consumption: Excessive alcohol consumption has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, so it's important to limit your alcohol intake to no more than one drink per day for women.
Avoid tobacco: Smoking and other forms of tobacco use have been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, as well as many other types of cancer. If you use tobacco, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health.
Get regular screenings: Regular mammograms and other breast cancer screenings can help detect breast cancer early when it is most treatable. Talk to your doctor about the appropriate screening schedule for you.
It's also important to be familiar with your breasts and to report any changes, such as lumps or abnormalities, to your doctor as soon as possible. Early detection is key to the successful treatment of breast cancer.
Triwi can help you with that
Do you want healthy breasts? Of course, you do and Triwi is here to help.
Self-breast exams are important because they can help you identify any changes or abnormalities in your breasts that may be a sign of a potential problem. By performing regular self-exams, you can become familiar with the normal look and feel of your breasts and be more likely to notice any changes that may occur.
Triwi is a small but powerful helper that assists you during your self breast exams. Catch the signs of breast cancer before it is too late.
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