Born in 1929, Audrey Hepburn, actress and humanitarian, would have been 86 this year and no doubt would have been as graceful, elegant and relevant as she was in her short life.
Her health story begins during the war years and ends when Audrey died, from a very rare form of cancer, in 1993, aged 63. This article is a respectful examination of her life in health, as researched via numerous biographies.
Audrey Hepburn and General health
The war left some lingering effects on Audrey, such as disheartening memories and ongoing health problems that would include anaemia and respiratory problems. She is said too, to have suffered with anxiety and stress.
Audrey Hepburn and Weight issues
Growing up during the war in Nazi occupied Holland, Audrey and her family had suffered extreme food shortages. She had experienced near starvation, and witnessed worse, and had never forgotten it. She said that “I actually got angry with it for being so difficult to come by and tasting so awful. I decided to master food; I told myself I didn’t need it.” She said that she ‘resented’ food. For most of her adult life she weight around 100lb (approx 7st) and at 5ft 7in was painfully thin.
Audrey Hepburn and Joints & Bones
During the filming of ‘The Unforgiven’, shot in Mexico, Audrey fell off a horse and broke her back. She was hospitalized with four broken vertebrae, torn muscles in her lower back and a badly sprained foot. She completed the film by wearing a back brace. This experience, together with the consumption of such a restricted diet, will most likely have seen her suffer with back and joint pain for the rest of her life. She trained as a ballerina and was a dedicated dancer and this too will have put strain on her joints.
Audrey Hepburn and Miscarriages
Audrey suffered three miscarriages in her life (1955, 1959 and 1974), one of which resulted from the serious fall from a horse. Though she also gave birth to two healthy boys, Sean and Luca.
Audrey Hepburn and Cancer
Though it is impossible to know the direct cause of her cancer (appendiceal cancer), such a restricted diet, a childhood filled with anxiety, followed by a stressful career, smoking, the strain of two failed marriages and heartache of three miscarriages will have taken its toll on her immune system.
Audrey Hepburn and Nutrition
A malnourished childhood leaves a fingerprint on the physical self.
“A regime to rebuild mineral status, incorporating a balanced diet would have been appropriate and beneficial. Resistance training to build muscle strength and gentle walking and swimming to increase stamina and general fitness,” suggests nutritionist Aimee Benbow.
“Red meat, dark leafy vegetables and iron supplements would be appropriate to restore iron levels. Iron is poorly absorbed without sufficient vitamin C, so I would also recommend 1000mg per day of vitamin C.”
Audrey Hepburn and smoking
Audrey was a smoker, and not just on-screen, many biographies describe her as a ‘chain smoker’, a ‘heavy smoker’, ever since she was 15. Each cigarette is estimated to destroy 60mg of vitamin C in the body.
A good quality multivitamin together with a separate calcium and magnesium supplement is recommended to bolster the bone health of someone on a very restricted diet.
Women who adhere to a very low fat diet risk throwing their hormones out of balance, an essential fatty acid (EFA) supplement each day is ideal to ensure the good fats are available to the endocrine system. EFAs are also crucial in brain health and mood.
A lack of vitamin D will leave to bone problems, in extreme cases even rickets. Vitamin D is also indicated as a factor in emotional health, with deficiencies leading to depression. A good quality multivitamin with around 400iu of vitamin D should be sufficient, together with regular outdoor activity exposing the skin to the sun. The action of sun on the skin is the body’s source of vitamin D.
Simply consuming enough food each day is fundamental to creating a body capable of conceiving and holding onto a baby in the womb. Extreme low weights will contribute to a failure to menstruate.
Antioxidants, key nutrients found within foods, are thought to have a role to play in cancer prevention. Antioxidants such as beta carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E help destroy free radicals in the body which appear to have a negative impact on cell health. Free radicals are generated in the body by excessive exercise, smoking, exposure to fried foods and many other daily influences.
Nutriscription for Audrey Hepburn
A high quality multivitamin with antioxidants.
A calcium and magnesium supplement.
Organic Ultimate Beauty Oil – rich in omega 3, 6 and 9.
Iron with vitamin C. We recommend Balanced Iron Complex from Viridian Nutrition. This is a gentle, non-constipating form of iron with added folic acid, vitamin C and B12 to aid absorption.
Vitamin D liquid.
Protein powder to encourage healthy weight gain and build appetite.
Joint Complex to include glucosamine, MSM, boswellia and bromelain.
Vervain and an adaptogen complex.