Do I need to take supplements for menopause?
Talk of peri menopause and menopause seems to be everywhere at the moment. It is fabulous that the subject is getting the attention it deserves and women are finally getting some help and understanding, like anything though, the more information that is available, the more confusing it can be.
There has been a dramatic rise in supplements that are marketed for menopause and many of these come with claims that they will improve energy, reduce anxiety, cure joint pain and much more (as an aside, such claims are often misleading and illegal but that’s another story). I can pretty much guarantee that everyone you speak to will be giving you advice as to what has worked for them and what you need. So what is the truth? Do you need supplements and if so, which?
Of course, there is not a straightforward answer to that question. Supplements absolutely can help how you feel but only if you take the right ones for you, of a quality and dosage that is appropriate for your health. It is important to note, however, that at the time of peri menopause there can be lots of things going on in life that could cause symptoms similar to those you can experience with the change in hormones. Work and family stress, juggling too much, poor diet (often caused by stress or lifestyle), the aging process – all of these can lead to low energy, low mood, anxiety, joint pain and weight gain. So whilst a supplement for hormone balance may have amazing results for your friend's energy levels, it won’t help you if the cause of your low energy is iron deficiency.
In this blog, I’ll explain more to help you start to understand what if anything you should be taking but I also want to encourage everyone to book a Free Health Review with the nutritional therapists at Amaranth, it’s a 15 minute zoom or phone call where we can chat about your symptoms, lifestyle and diet, help you cut through the confusion and make specific recommendations for you.
So let’s delve deeper..
Why do you need supplements?
There are four main reasons that you can benefit from nutritional or herbal supplements:
To correct micro nutrient (otherwise known as vitamin and mineral) deficiencies.
Vitamins and minerals have hundreds of roles in the body and can have a powerful influence over how we think and feel, as well as a role in future health protection. There are a few key nutrients to be aware of at this time:
Iron : The main food sources of iron are red meat and green leafy vegetables. It can be hard to get the amount of iron you need if you eat little or no ed meat. Sign of iron deficiency include hair loss and low energy
If your diet is low in iron, a gentle iron supplement may be beneficial (avoid the form ferrous sulphate as this can make you constipated). My suggestion is Viridian Balanced Iron.
Vitamin B12. You may have heard of B12 as the wonder vitamin that can make you feel invincible. Personally, I don’t support vitamin injections - we are designed to get our vitamins through food, and I worry about the effects of mega dosing and the impact this may have on other nutrients and health problems later down the line. B12 is only found in animal products so if you are vegan or plant based, there is a good chance you will be deficient. Some people also struggle to absorb B12. Low energy and a lack of vitality are the main symptoms of B12 deficiency. If you are vegan, my suggestion is Viridian Vegan Multi or Viridian B12
Vitamin D : Vitamin D is an essential vitamin, but you can’t get what you need from food, we absorb vitamin D from sunlight. Unless you are lucky enough to spend many months of the year away in the sunshine, this the one supplement that everyone should take. You can choose a spray or capsule form such as Better You D3 or Viridian D3
Omega 3 oils : Omega 3 fats are largely found in oily fish, algae and to a lesser extent in some seeds. These fats are essential to women’s health due to their role in modulating inflammation (think joint pain), brain health, skin health and dryness. If you don’t eat oily fish at least a couple of times a week, then step this up or I highly recommend adding a supplement. Bare Biology is my go-to for a pure, toxin free fish oil
At this stage you may be worried that you will be rattling, and we haven’t really started yet – unless you are lacking in the foods mentioned, don’t start taking supplements that you may not need (other than Vitamin D). Always refer back to your GP and explain your symptoms, they can test your iron and ferritin levels along with markers of red blood cells which will show folate or B12 deficiencies. Also remember that nutrients can be combined in a good quality multi matched to your needs, contact us and we can make a personal recommendation.
If you have an increased demand for certain nutrients
There are some nutrients some women may need more of at this time:
Calcium : If you are menopausal and don’t take HRT then you really should consider taking calcium alongside vitamin D. Oestrogen is protective of bone health and so declining oestrogen levels can leave you at a higher risk of osteoporosis
Calcium can be a tricky one in supplements as it is a bulky nutrient so the capsules can be big or you need to take multiple capsules per day. Cytoplan Bone Support is a good option as this contains calcium along with magnesium and Vitamins K and D..
Magnesium. Magnesium is a cofactor in over 300 processes in the body, including cellular energy and the production of neurotransmitters (such as serotonin the feel good chemical and dopamine which helps to calm and relax). Magnesium (particularly in glycine form) has been found to help sleep. Magnesium is depleted with stress and busy lives and so most women of peri menopausal age feel a benefit from increasing magnesium levels. Viridian High Potency Magnesium is our favourite for a good all round magnesium but we can suggest specific ones for specific things and explain more in our blog on Types of Magnesium
To correct macro nutrient balance
I’m not going to talk about this too much here as it could be overload, but just to say, in my experience, women often consume a greater amount of quick grab and go carbohydrates – sandwiches, cereal, croissants, pasta and rice, at the expense of protein. This I believe to be the biggest influence on weight gain and low energy/mood.
A simple way to start to re-address this balance is to add in a quick, clean, protein based smoothy at breakfast. I always recommend Supernova Life Drink – blend with milk or oat milk and a few berries or banana and you are good to go.
For specific symptom support.
Here is where things get really interesting! I love herbs and many herbal remedies have been used traditionally for thousands of years to support hormone health and help to relieve symptoms. Some herbs have good evidence for hot sweats, calming, anxiety, joint pain and sleep. It really is a minefield though with which to choose and the dosage. Again, I really do recommend that you book a health review with a nutritional therapist so that they can make specific recommendations of herbs, brands and dosage. If I had to give my top picks here, they would be :
Ashwagandha: My favourite herb, I take this one every day. It is known as an adaptogen, this group of herbs are believed to help the body deal with various stresses and various studies have found benefits during perimenopause. Personally, I find that ashwagandha it helps me cope better with daily challenges
You can find good levels of ashwagandha in the SuperNova life drink, Wild Nutrition Botanical Menopause or Wild Nutrition KSM Ashwagandha.
Turmeric. Turmeric has been used for thousands of years as an anti inflammatory and natural remedy for arthritis and joint pain. Falling oestrogen levels can affect cartilage leading to increased inflammation and pain so a turmeric supplement of an appropriate strength may be helpful if joints are a particular issue for you.
Lemon Balm. Memory and cognitive function are among the most reported symptoms for menopause. Lemon balm has been shown in clinical trials to demonstrate clear benefits for these during the menopause. We have also found that this works well alongside theanine for anxiety.
Sage. Sage is one of the best known herbs for menopausal hot flushes. Personally I find it works best when in combination with a few other key herbs to balance the nervous system (such as Wild Nutrition Botanical Menopause which also has ashwagandha or Viridian Menopause complex which has lemon balm)
There are many more and if you would like more detailed expert information then I suggest you take a look at this download from Viridian Nutrition produced by Aimee Benbow Msc. This contains a comprehensive table of menopause systems with suggested based on factual research studies.
As with vitamins and minerals, you don’t need to take these herbs separately, there are some fabulous formulations available but rather than mention these here I would prefer to make personalised recommendations.
Can I take any old supplement?
Hopefully by now you have booked a health review or have been able to pick out a few key nutrients or herbs that would benefit you, but can you just pick any old brand off the shelf? Oh no! One of my biggest irritations are those TV programmes that take a poor quality, small one a day supplement, test it in 10 people and then conclude that supplements don’t work. Poor quality, low dosage supplements don’t work but there are many excellent products out there that get great results (if they are right for you)
So how on earth do you choose? We can of course help but if you are looking to do your own research, there are a few factors to consider :
- Vitamins and minerals can come in a number of forms, some are better absorbed than others and will act differently in the body. Magnesium, for example, is available as a citrate, bisglycinate, oxide. Do your research, check out our blogs or ask the Amaranth team for the best ones for you.
- You want to avoid synthetic fillers and binders.
There is enough yuk in our lives, the environment and diet so lets not add more in things that are supposed to be doing us some good. Look at the label, if it contains magnesium stearate, glucose, titanium dioxide or aspartame, it’s time to step away.
- Be aware of supplements that claim to have everything in. There is only so much you can get in one capsule so the more ingredients, it is likely that only a very small amount of each has been included. There are studies available showing the results of various herbs on menopausal symptoms and the dosage that was included, these are useful guide to show that you are taking something that should be effective. All good supplement companies will be able to provide you with the research behind their formulas and we can also access this for you.
To make all this slightly easier, our Nutritional Therapists have looked through hundreds of products and brands and only those with clean formulations, superior nutrient forms and dosage that holds up to research, make it on our shelves and site. For female health, the formulas by Wild Nutrition, Viridian, Nutri Advanced, Supernova, TerraNova and Bare Biology are the ones we tend to recommend.
What Happens Now?
Hopefully by now you can see that a personal approach is needed – the supplements your friend takes may not be the one for you. You may not even need supplements at all, a few diet and lifestyle tweaks could just be what you are looking for. So what are you waiting for, Book your Free Health Review* now.
*Free Health Review
A £10 booking fee is required to reserve your slot. This is full refundable on any purchase after the session.
This health review is only available to people in the UK.