Confused about all the vitamins and pills out there? Here's the Live Better With beginner's guide to supplements that can help with menopause , including an A-Z list of symptoms...
It’s estimated than almost half of all women going through menopause use supplements, at some point, to help relieve stressful symptoms. But what, exactly, is a supplement? Which supplements do what? And how can you find out which supplement would help you?
We’ve put together a brief outline of the main types of supplements available and an A-Z list of menopausal symptoms and the supplements that can help, together with important advice on how to take supplements safely, so that you can make an informed choice.
What is a supplement - and when and why should you take them?
‘I’ve recently started using maca and it’s helped me massively (with hot flushes).’ Live Better With Menopause community member.
In an ideal world, we would get all the nutrients we need from a balanced, healthy diet and we would metabolise them as effectively as possible through regular exercise . . . but life isn’t quite like that. There are times, for all of us, when external factors such as stress at work, care responsibilities, recovering from colds or flu, or particular life stages - menopause is a prime example – mean that we don’t or can’t eat as well or keep as fit as we should. That’s when a supplement can help.
Some supplements will be familiar - Vitamins B, C and D, for example; others, such as ashwagandha (used in Ayurvedic medicine), maca (a form of ginseng) and rhodiola, all of which are plant derived, and ascophyllum (a type of seaweed), may be new to you. Supplements are designed to replace the nutrients we are missing; they come in various forms and from various sources including:
- vitamins, such as B, C and D
- minerals, such as calcium, iron and magnesium
- enzymes, such as co-enzyme Q10
- amino acids such as glucosamine and l-theanine
- fish oils, such as red krill oil
- plants (including herbs, spices and marine plants), such as ginger, rhodiola and ascophyllum
Which symptom, which supplement?
‘Omega 7 with sea buckthorn . . . It has got rid of dry eyes, itchy skin & dry intimate areas.’ Live With Menopause community member.
Some supplements have been found to help specific menopause symptoms, such as hot flushes, while others may offer relief across a range of symptoms. We’ve listed the most common menopause symptoms (and body systems affected or weakened by menopause), together with supplements, including combination supplements that have been found to be effective. This will give you an idea of what’s available and what you might find helpful.
You can find full details about each of them in the Vitamins and Supplements section of the Live Better With Menopause online shop. Many are suitable for vegetarians or vegans and some are halal or kosher.
Please note that this is for general information only; not every supplement will work, or work as well, for everyone and, in some cases, may not be suitable for you. Always consult your GP or healthcare practitioner before taking any supplements. See the final section ‘Stay safe with supplements’ for more information.
An A-Z of menopause symptoms and supplements that can help
- Absent-mindedness, brain fog, poor memory: fish oil, vitamin B-50 complex, gingko biloba
- Anxiety and depression: ashwagandha, maca, rhodiola, St John’s wort
- Blood sugar levels (low or erratic): ashwagandha, chromium+magnesium (combined)
- Bones and teeth: ascophyllum, magnesium, vitamins D3+K2 (combined)
- Cardiovascular function (heart and blood vessels): vitamin B-50 complex, co-enzyme Q10
- Digestion: ginger, peppermint
- Eyes: red krill oil
- Energy (lack of): co-enzyme Q10, magnesium
- Fatigue, tiredness and exhaustion: chromium, co-enzyme Q10, iron, maca, vitamins B6 and B50 complex
- Hair, nails and skin: omega-7, zinc
- Hormonal balance: vitamin B6, vitamin C
- Hot flushes and night sweats: black cohosh, maca
- Inflammation: fish oil
- Immune system: ascophyllum, co-enzyme Q10, vitamin B6, vitamin C, zinc
- Joints and connective tissue: vitamin C, glucosamine
- Libido (lowered or loss of): maca, omega-7
- Migraine: co-enzyme Q10, feverfew
- Muscle weakness: magnesium
- Sleep (insomnia or poor sleep): maca, valerian
- Stress: ashwgandha, rhodiola rosea
- Thyroid function: ascophyllum
- Vaginal dryness: ascophyllum, sea buckthorn oil, omega-7
- Weight gain and metabolism: ascophyllum, chromium+magnesium (combined)
‘This supplement helped me!’ - join our community...
‘Magnesium supplements, I've been sleeping like a log since I started them a month ago!’ Live Better With Menopause community member.
Many members of our Live Better With Menopause Community Forum and Facebook group have found that taking one or more supplements has made a real difference to troublesome symptoms. It’s worth joining the group to find out more.
Members are friendly and welcoming and are happy to share details of which supplements have worked for them - and which haven’t. We each experience menopause and menopause symptoms in our own way and, when it comes to supplements, a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t appropriate. Sharing information and discussing personal experiences are always helpful.
(When you visit the Forum or Facebook page enter ‘supplements’ in the search box to bring up the most relevant questions, comments and answers.)
Stay safe with supplements
There’s no doubt that, taken appropriately, supplements can often help ease the passage through menopause - but it’s important to stay safe. Supplements vary enormously in quality, just as they do in price. Follow our three-point checklist to ensure, if you do decide to go ahead, that you take the correct supplements in the correct strength, at the correct frequency, and for the correct length of time.
- Always consult your GP or other qualified healthcare professional before taking any supplement. You may be advised to have some blood tests to check essential vitamin, mineral and enzyme levels, as this will help your healthcare practitioner to identify which supplements would be best for you and which to avoid. This is vital if you are taking any prescription medication or have an underlying medical condition.
- It’s also important to follow instructions and guidelines on what to take and when, how, how often, and for how long, to avoid any adverse side effects. Generally speaking, it’s inadvisable to take any supplements continuously over a long period of time – unless your GP or healthcare practitioner has advised otherwise.
- Make sure that you obtain your supplements from a reliable source. The vitamins and supplements sold by Live Better With Menopause are of the highest quality and are endorsed by menopause healthcare expert, Maryon Stewart.
The Vitamins and Minerals section of the Live Better With Menopause online shop has a wide range of recommended supplements, with full details of all those listed above.
Visit our Live Better With Menopause Community Forum for information, advice, and tips, and to share your own tips and suggestions.