Which supplements (vitamins), minerals, and essential oils may provide relief
I realize that I may have drifted into the personal without offering any help. So today — it’s all about ideas, recommendation, insights. The nitty gritty.
But first — I have to say — I’m not a doctor and I’m not pretending or suggesting or implying I am a doctor, have ever trained to be a doctor, or even thought about being a doctor. Read this, talk to your doctor (the damn white coats) and make your own decisions. Education is key.
I take individual supplements. Every decent white coat I’ve spoken to about supplements tells me the same thing — multi-vitamins are a lie. They’re nonsense. So I’m avoiding the nonsense and I take a lot of pills every day-supplements. Some at morning and the others at bedtime. If you don’t want to take a fistful of vitamins twice a day — cool — but you may not fully benefit from the protocol given the weakened nature of the multi-vitamin compound.
Now on to vitamins and supplements.
If you’re one of those people that believes that “vitamins are a scam” — super — stop reading. You’ve figured it all out and you eat enough raw, organic fruits, nuts, meat and fish and veggies every day that you’ve solved your body’s craving for minerals and vitamins. Super. Well done.
IF you haven’t figured it all out and are waging the Peri-Menopause or Menopause war — then here’s what I’ve discovered.
I have borrowed the scientific language from other sites. I then add my own experience. Again — not a doctor.
First — get blood tests and measure for all of this. Get a starting point. And then measure these levels on a regular (every 6 month basis).
Vitamin E — Vitamin E has antioxidant properties, and some scientists believe that it can help to relieve stress symptoms by reducing oxidative stress. Also, some studies have found that people with low levels of vitamin E are more likely to experience depression than those with higher levels. Depression is a common side effect of stress. I take this every day. It’s good for your skin (which starts to sag when the hormones leave the building) and I’ve never had a side-effect.
Vitamin C — anti-inflammatory so it helps with allergies, immune system, and makes you feel good. Take Vitamin C every single day. I take this every day and, by and large, save for the nefarious Asian Flu (which is diabolical), I am healthy. Given that I fly about 350,000 miles a year and go to some pretty strange places, different climates, etc. — the fact that I’m not sick more often is a testament, in my opinion, to the Great C. If you suffer from allergies (which is inflammation), Vitamin C can help with that, too.
Vitamin D — most people are very deficient in Vitamin D — we were told not get sun and now our mitochondria are starving for D. So, first, go and get some damn sun. It’s not bad for you in intelligent doses. Do not lather up in oil and get baked. That’s not what I said. Sit in the sun an hour a day — afternoon sun or early morning and then take Vitamin D. Vitamin D is not present in many foods. It is a vitamin that is produced in the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D is essential for good bone health, and people who do not have a lot of it may develop brittle bones, often called osteoporosis.
Magnesium — Using magnesium for menopause– particularly cold flashes, anxiety, and sleep disturbances — women saw improvement in some or all of these, though experiences varied. We do know that many adult women don’t get enough of this nutrient which may also improve heart health and reduce blood pressure, combat osteoporosis, and, particularly if you take magnesium citrate, help with constipation. Food sources of magnesium include dark chocolate, avocados, nuts and seeds, legumes, leafy greens, fatty fish, and tofu. Recommended amount for women, 310–320 mg. I take magnesium at night and it helps with sleep. Soaking your feet in epsom salts (which is full of magnesium) is also a great idea. Note — you cannot take magnesium, without Zinc — it doesn’t get absorbed. Zinc is great key to letting a lot of this stuff really make a difference in your body. Take Zinc!
Iron — is a mineral vital to the proper function of hemoglobin, a protein needed to transport oxygen in the blood. Iron also has a role in a variety of other important processes in the body. A shortage of iron in the blood can lead to a range of serious health problems, including iron deficiency anemia. So I never have iron deficiency. Ever. I take Iron once every two weeks and usually at night if I cannot get the “easy” Iron — meaning the one that doesn’t rip your stomach and bowel to shreds. Get iron measured and take enough to maintain but this is not something you are taking every day.
Potassium — Many blood pressure medications — especially the commonly prescribed class known as diuretics — can affect your potassium level. But while some diuretics tend to lower potassium levels, others have the opposite effect. And certain ACE inhibitors, such as lisinopril (Prinvil, Zestril) or ramipril (Altace), may also raise potassium levels. So can common painkillers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve). TALK TO A DOCTOR ABOUT POSTASSIUM. IT HAS TO BE CLOSELY MONITORED.
Selenium — plays an important role in the health of the immune system. This antioxidant helps lower oxidative stress in the body, which reduces inflammation and enhances immunity. Studies have demonstrated that increased blood levels of selenium are associated with enhanced immune response. I don’t take this but know some who do — make your own choice.
Zinc — Zinc is a nutrient that plays many vital roles in your body. Because your body doesn’t naturally produce zinc, you must obtain it through food or supplements. Zinc is necessary for the activity of over 300 enzymes that aid in metabolism, digestion, nerve function and many other processes. Zinc may effectively reduce inflammation, boost immune health, reduce your risk of age-related diseases, speed wound healing and improve acne symptoms. You need Zinc because your body cannot absorb a lot of minerals, like Magnesium, without it. That’s why you see Zinc and Magnesium as a combo tablet. I take it every night with magnesium.
Vitamins B6 and B12 — Vitamin B6 may help ward off menopausal depressionand increase energy by boosting serotonin. Vitamin Bs may also help with insomnia and possibly even reduce hot flashes. Vitamins for hot flashes may sound like just what you’re after, however it’s possible to get too much vitamin B6 and cause nerve damage, so make sure your sources don’t exceed more than 100 mgs/day total. B12 does a whole lot of things, including increasing energy, protecting our hearts and brains, supporting good gut health, and helping our nervous system and eyes work properly. A lot of people are low in Vitamin B (all of it). I take a B-Complex and I’m going to increase the dose because I’ having some serious issues with Insomnia (and have had for 2 years since my partial hysterectomy). Don’t let your B get low.
Probiotics — A lot of you have heard about “gut health”. If you haven’t, start reading about it. Your gut is a garden. Probiotics are supplements that contain live microbes to re-colonize the beneficial flora in your body. Not only can that help with digestive issues many women confront around this time (bloating, gas, constipation), probiotics can also support vaginal health by helping to fight yeast infections. Having a healthy gut is the foundation of good health — if you’re going to eat all that great, nutritious food, be sure you can digest it. You hear things about Leaky Gut, gut health, and a bunch of other gut-related things now. It’s important. It’s very real. Take some priobiotics if you are on any daily medication. Your intestinal track needs help. All of those medications, our food, stress — it’s all stripping away the natural balance in our system and there’s now very strong evidence that bad guy health affects mental health.
Omega 3s — So, it turns out heart disease isn’t just a guy problem. In fact, it’s the leading killer of women in the US, and about 10 years post-menopause our risk of heart attack evens up with the gents’. So we can’t afford to ignore our heart health. After menopause, a woman’s levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) can start to rise. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce the amount of LDL in the blood, resulting in less plaque and less chance of blockage. According to Menopause Health Matters, boosting Omega-3s may also help reduce joint pain and ease symptoms of menopause, including vaginal dryness, hot flashes, and night sweats. My cholesterol is very high and it won’t lower. I refuse to take a statin. So I’m taking garlic every day and I’m trying Omega — honestly it just gives me the worst heartburn. I’ll keep trying it and I’m still committed to lowering my cholesterol naturally. I do not want statins. I don’t believe that they’re the answer to my body increasing LDL as a result of hormones. They’re a band-aid.
Flaxseed: Easing Night Sweats — Flaxseed and flaxseed oil may help some women with mild menopause symptoms. It’s a good source of lignans, which tend to balance female hormones. Not all studies have shown these benefits in relieving hot flashes, though. I don’t have night sweats anymore — so I never tried this — but Flaxseed is just good for you. As are Chia seeds. Toss a few into whatever you’re making and eat them. They’re good.
Turmeric — This one is a bit of an outlier, but there’s enough good evidence of its anti-inflammatory properties to make it worth considering. Plus, it’s delicious. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, can boost heart healthand may even reduce depression, both of which are great benefits for women in menopause. Diabetes can also be a greater risk post-menopause, and curcumin may delay the onset of Type-2 among those with pre-diabetes. As with Omega-3s, if you’re taking blood-thinning medications, consult with your doc before taking a curcumin supplement, as it can act as an anti-coagulant. I take Tumeric every day. No complaints.
Calcium: Preventing Bone Loss — Bone loss can become a serious problem once hormone levels drop after menopause. It’s crucial to get enough calcium. Women under 51 need 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day. Women 51 and older need 1,200 milligrams a day. Tip: It’s best to get your calcium from food. If you need supplements to fill the gap, take smaller doses with food during the day (no more than 500 mg at a time). You’ll absorb it better. Try to find a Calcium supplement that isn’t the size of your spoon or head. I find it very difficult to find one that I can actually swallow. And take with a meal.
Ginseng: Mood Booster — A few studies have found evidence that the different types of ginseng might help improve quality of life during menopause. Ginseng has been shown to boost mood and improve sleep. I’m going to add Ginseng to my life now. I have major insomnia issues and anything I can take that might make my natural sleep better is great. There are different types of Ginseng so research the various strains and pick the one that you think is right for you.
St. John’s Wort: Control Mood Swings — St. John’s wort is a well-known treatment for mild depression. But it might also have a special benefit for women during menopause. There’s some evidence — particularly when combined with black cohosh — that St. John’s wort can improve mood and smooth the mood swings tied to menopause. I found Black Cohosh to be very powerful — almost too strong way back when I was trying to get my cycle to regulate. I have not tried it for Menopause — but I might. I battle with depression, and have since childhood, so adding St. John’s and Black Cohosh might give relief. I do my very best to avoid Big Pharma for my health.
Evening primrose oil. While not a phytoestrogen itself, evening primrose is sometimes found in combination with phytoestrogens in supplements that target women’s health and menopause symptoms. It is also available on its own, and used to treat menopause symptoms including hot flashes. High in omega-6 fatty acids, evening primrose oil may reduce inflammation, ease pain, help support brain function, and contribute to bone health. This might be a great addition to your daily protocol. I think if you’re taking this, you probably don’t take Black Cohosh. Overall, Black Cohosh is seen to be more effective.
DHEA: Hormone of Youth — Natural levels of DHEA hormone drop in our bodies after age 30. Some small studies have found that DHEA supplements ease menopause symptoms such as low libido and hot flashes. The evidence is mixed. Other studies have found no benefit. There is some concern that long-term use or high doses of DHEA may raise the risk of breast cancer. I was warned about taking DHEA for years — and I kept asking for years. I am officially taking DHEA as part of my new protocol and it’s still too early to say if it’s going to be beneficial.
Soy: Wonder Food?
Menopausal women in the U.S. are over eight times more likely to have hot flashes than women in Asian countries. Could the soy in the Asian diet explain the difference? Possibly. Studies have found soy to be modestly effective in relieving hot flashes. Soy foods (such as soy nuts and tofu) and phytoestrogen supplements — estrogen-like compounds found in some plants — are sometimes used to relieve mild hot flashes. The research isn’t conclusive, though. I avoid soy because I am estrogen dominant. I do not need anymore estrogen anywhere near my body. Estrogen dominance leads to weight gain. So if you love tofu, soy milk, soy sauce, etc. — cool — but just keep in mind that it has estrogen-like compounds that can really mess with an already sensitive system.
I do not take my supplements every day — except for the Sugar-related doses, my progesterone cream, and the DHEA.
There’s a lot of study around giving your body a break from supplements. So take them for 5 days and take two days off. It’s okay. If you notice a difference and you don’t like how you feel, take them every day.
My Morning Supplements:
T3 micro-dose first thing in the morning — before brushing teeth, eating, etc. — this is for my malfunctioning, barely there thyroid
DHEA — one capsule — with breakfast
Pre-Diabetes packet (prescribed by doctor in Singapore) — with breakfast
Gymne-Sylvestre — blood sugar control
My Evening Supplements:
Progesterone cream on the underside of my forearm — 50mg
Iron (twice a month max)
How do I keep it all organized? I have one of these things. I don’t have the fancy version with the timer. I have a smaller version for when I travel. It’s not sexy — but it works. I refill it once a month and I’m good to go.
Essential Oils — another great layer to your health —
Hot flashes are a quick sensation of heat that pulsates throughout your body. These may be naturally remedied by rubbing three drops of diluted clary sage oil across the back of your neck or all over your feet. For even quicker relief, consider adding a few drops to a tissue or napkin and inhaling and exhaling softly. This allows the oil to enter your body through your nose. This process can also produce antidepressant like effects. Clary sage is also thought to help slow the development of osteoporosis. Women experiencing menopause have an increased risk for osteoporosis due to a decline in estrogen. During this time, bone breakdown overtakes bone development. Sage clears the energy around you and I feel better when I use sage.
Peppermint oil — Peppermint oil may also reduce your discomfort when experiencing hot flashes. Add no more than two drops to a tissue. Hold the tissue up to your nose while breathing slowly. This oil may also help relieveany cramping you may experience during this time. Although not common once menstruation has ended, it’s typical to experience menstruation-related cramping (dysmenorrhea) during peri-menopause. I’ve never tried peppermint oil but peppermint is cooling and probably feels good. If you are not having a period anymore (so maybe you’re peri-menopausal but not menopausal yet) — you’re between the two — then you’ll probably still get cramping and it’s likely mid-cycle -you’re ovulating or your body is still in the zone to ovulate. I had a partial hysterectomy two years ago and kept my ovaries (big mistake). I still ovulate now and then and it’s still painful like it was before the surgery.
Lavender may help balance your hormones and soothe perineal discomfort. If the area around your perineum feels tight or otherwise uncomfortable, you may consider placing a cold compress on the area. You can add one drop of diluted lavender oil to the compress for additional relief. It’s recommended that you only use the compress for up to 30 minutes. If you experience any stinging or burning, you should remove the compress and rinse the area with water. Lavender can also promote feelings of relaxation and help improve the quality of your sleep. During this time, insomnia and other sleep-related problems are common. You may find it beneficial to add lavender aromatherapy to your nighttime routine. Lavender is just nice to smell and helps with sleep and calm. Sprinkle some on your sheets. Travel with it and do the same and it changes that “hotel odor”.
If you’re looking for ways to increase your estrogen levels or to help improve your mood, consider adding basil aromatherapy to your daily regimen. Basil can also be helpful against hot flashes when diluted and applied to your feet or rubbed across the back of your neck. If you are estrogen dominant (something blood tests will reveal), you don’t want to necessarily do anything to increase your estrogen. — Be wary of anything that does.
Citrus oil aromatherapy is said to have a number of health benefits for women experiencing symptoms of menopause. Researchers in a 2014 study found the postmenopausal women who inhaled this essential oil experienced fewer physical symptoms and an increase in sexual desire. In addition to a decrease in systolic blood pressure, they also experienced an improved pulse rate and estrogen concentrations. Citrus also has anti-inflammatory properties, which may help with any aches and pains you may be experiencing. Take care with citrus oils, they make your skin sun sensitive. Avoid direct sunlight if applying diluted citrus oils to your skin. Citrus is great!