When many of us think of the health benefits of food proteins, fats, and carbohydrates come to mind. These macronutrients make up the general composition of our foods but within them lie additional health-promoting compounds called micronutrients.
Micronutrients include trace minerals and vitamins that support the normal growth and development of living organisms. Without them, body systems like the immune system, nervous system, and digestive system can become impaired.
Many individuals are deficient in micronutrients. This can be due to low intake of dietary sources like fruits and vegetables and high intake of processed and nutrient-poor foods. Additionally, it is thought that the micronutrient quality of our fresh food has declined in recent years due to industrial agricultural production.
This micronutrient deficiency may be at the root of why some people struggle to eradicate HPV infections compared to others who clear the virus more easily. Several micronutrients have been specifically found to be low in individuals with HPV and cervical dysplasia – we’ll outline them below.
The Key Players
Folate – Vitamin B9
Most people know of folate as an important nutrient for fetal development that should be taken during pregnancy. In addition to supporting a healthy pregnancy, Folate also plays a role in DNA production and red and white blood cell formation, and also plays an important role in HPV.
When folate levels are low, the body has trouble maintaining a process called methylation. Methylation helps support cardiovascular, neurological, and reproductive health. When the process is impaired, it can increase levels of an inflammatory compound called homocysteine. This compound can increase the risk of heart disease and impact gene regulation that helps regulate cancer cell growth.
There is a strong association found between folate deficiency and cervical dysplasia. Several studies have found that high blood levels are associated with a lower risk of cervical dysplasia and HPV and increased risk with low blood folate. Studies have also demonstrated that supplementation with folate may reduce the risk of cervical cancer.
Low dietary intake of folate may not be solely to blame for deficiencies. Some individuals have SNP’s in their genetic pathway that prevents them from converting dietary folate into its active form. These individuals may have higher levels of homocysteine and an increased risk of disease.
How to get your dose? Foods that contain folate include leafy greens, brussel sprouts, broccoli, and chickpeas. Folate can also be supplemented. The recommended daily intake of folate is 400 micrograms.
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Lycopene and Carotenoids- Vitamin A
Vitamin A is derived from dietary intakes of those red, orange, and green-colored vegetables rich in lycopene and carotenoids. This vitamin also appears to play a role in cervical health.
Studies evaluating dietary intake and blood levels of Vitamin A found higher intake was associated with a reduced risk of cervical cancer. Whereas low dietary intake of carotenoids is associated with an increased risk of persistent HPV infections.
How to get your daily dose? To get more lycopene and carotenoids into the diet, aim for 6-8 servings of leafy greens, orange, red and yellow vegetables per day.
Foods rich in lycopene and carotenoids include: carrots, squash, tomatoes, broccoli, and red peppers. A dosage of 3000 mcg per day is recommended. Please note that Vitamin A should not be taken if pregnant, as excess stores can build up and cause birth defects.
Selenium is another trace mineral that we must obtain from our diet. Selenium is important for thyroid function, reproductive health, and keeping the immune system running.
Many individuals are low in selenium due to the reduced soil quality of our foods. Low levels have been found to increase rates of cervical dysplasia. Selenium deficiency is thought to allow viral strains to mutate and progress.
How to get your daily dose? Selenium is found in high doses in brazil nuts. 3 nuts per day are adequate to reach the daily recommended dose of 200 mcg. Oysters have also been found to contain selenium.
Who doesn’t love vitamin C? A powerful antioxidant that plays a role in many functions in the body. Vitamin C is important for immune system function, which is why we have all associated oranges and lemons with preventing colds and flu. Vitamin C also supports collagen production, iron absorption, and fuels and protects our cells.
Studies have found that higher intake of Vitamin C was associated with lower rates of HPV persistence compared to lower intake. Dietary supplements of Vitamin C were also found to reduce the risk of Cervical dysplasia in high-risk HPV infections.
How to get your daily dose? Foods like kiwis, red peppers, broccoli, citrus fruits, apples, and strawberries are high in vitamin C. The recommended daily intake is 75 to 90 milligrams. However, intake of up to 2000 mg a day is considered safe.
Finally, Vitamin E deserves a mention – this vitamin is another powerful antioxidant found to protect against DNA damage and oxidative stress. Vitamin E may have anti-cancer effects.
A meta-analysis reviewing the relationship between vitamin E intake and blood levels of vitamin E has found the higher levels of vitamin E, the lower level of cervical dysplasia.
How to get your dose? Vitamin E is found in foods like sunflower seeds, almonds, peanuts, pumpkin, beet greens, spinach, and red bell pepper. The recommended daily intake is 15 milligrams per day.
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Receiving our nutrients from foods is always the best method, however, it isn’t always easy to get our daily dose. That is why Papillex formulated its supplement with this research in mind to provide one supplement to meet all of your needs!