I’m astounded by the weird supplement recommendations I see all over social media. You wouldn’t be the only one confused as to what if any supplements you should take or what helps to ease any number of menopause symptoms. So, are supplements useful? Do you have a guide? Where should you get your information?
Typical comment from a new client:
Kelly – “I am standing in the middle of a health food store and I’m completely overwhelmed. My aunt Bettie tells me to take (insert weird supplement) for menopause, my doctor recommends drug store brands and my partner says they’re a waist of money. How do I know if I need to take them and if so what brands to take? Please help!!”
There are many reasons why I recommend supplements to women. Some reasons include; poor gut absorption of nutrients (leaky gut), low stomach acid, inability to consume adequate amounts of fresh produce, farming methods (use of pesticides, inorganic fertilizers, and waste-treated water to grow a lot of food quickly and cheaply in nutrient depleted soil), chronic effects of yoyo dieting (depriving body of nutrients), stress (excess cortisol depleting B vitamins from the system), health conditions like osteoporosis or medications that deplete the absorption of vital nutrients etc. It’s important to note that each woman that sits with me goes through a thorough assessment before I recommend anything.
There are so many factors that mitigate a supplement recommendation but I need to say this loud and clear; “supplements cannot replace a good quality diet.” Ignoring the quality of your diet in favour of a multivitamin will NOT make you healthy. This is why I developed my 12 week hormone focused weight loss program. You must consider your blood sugar balance, antioxidants and special qualities of phytonutrients you can’t get in a pill.
Each client who signs up for my Hormone Focused 12 Week Weight Loss Program otherwise known as The Body Beautiful Program get to sit with me for a thorough assessment. There are specific diet and herbal and supplement recommendations for ensuring a good night sleep, hot flashes, inflammation and general health. No woman should have to suffer, yet I see so many just enduring symptoms. It’s specifically for this reason that I developed the Body Beautiful Program. There is no reason a woman should suffer for years with persistent weight gain, hot flashes and endless nights of crummy sleep.
Although I can’t recommend supplements to anyone without assessing them, there are a few ground rules to choosing a high quality supplement. If you are on any medication or have a health condition you MUST always check with your pharmacist or doctor before starting any supplement regime. It’s always best to connect with a health care provider to ensure that you are choosing the right supplement for you.
General Guide to Choosing Your Supplements:
1. Look for the GMP symbol:
When choosing a supplement first look for the “GMP” logo on the product. Goods and Manufacturing Practice (GMP) is part of a quality control system that oversees the manufacturing and testing of supplements and natural food products. GMPs are guidelines that outline the aspects of production and testing that can impact the quality of a product. It’s important to note however, that just because the manufacturing practices get a stamp of approval doesn’t necessarily mean the supplement ingredients are of the highest quality or even bio-available.
2. Choose Capsules and Liquids over Capsules:
In MOST cases capsules, powders, and liquids are more absorbable than tablets. Stomach acids break down tablets; however, some companies create tablets to dissolve at specific temperatures to ensure maximum absorption. Some tablets and time-released pills may be difficult to break down, particularly if you are experiencing low levels of stomach acid and this usually includes women over 50.
3. Look for the Words Chelate, Citrate or Glycinate:
Look for the words “citrate”, “glycinate” or “chelate” to ensure you are taking the most absorbable form of multivitamin. More effective multivitamins are highly absorbable and include amino acid chelates and citrates, rather than sulfates, carbonates or oxides, which are less absorbable but are still valuable and serve many purposes. Supplements bound by amino acids can provide three to ten times better assimilation than non-chelated forms.
4. Choose Filler Free:
Choose multivitamins and supplements that are free of binders, fillers, artificial colouring’s, preservatives, yeast, sugar, starch, and other additives.
Four Common Supplements I Frequently Recommend:
Probiotics: Not all bacteria are bad. Good bacteria, also known as probiotics, are a mixture of several different strains of good bacteria. Good bacteria (flora) normally lives in your digestive system and works to maintain the proper balance of good and bad bacteria. Our bodies automatically react when we eat an excess of processed, sugary or refined foods, we’re taking antibiotics or other medications, or when our bodies are under constant stress. As a result, the quantity and quality of our good bacteria suffers. When this happens, the bad bacteria start to outnumber the good bacteria, allowing for an overgrowth of yeast, parasites, and other harmful invaders that can weaken our immune systems. Since we are only as healthy as our digestive systems, an overgrowth of bad bacteria can cause symptoms to appear in other parts of our bodies.
Symptoms of a Lack of Good Bacteria:
- Yeast infections
- Pain before having a bowel movement
- Low immune system
- Eczema, psoriasis, dandruff
How to Choose a Probiotic:
- A healing dose is between 15-100 billion live cells per day.
- A maintenance dose is between 1-15 billion live cells per day.
- It can be taken in supplement or powder form.
- It should be enteric coated.
- Look for a brand containing multiple strains of different live bacteria cells.
Fish Oils (EPA/DHA Omega 3 Fatty Acids)
Due to the rising levels of mercury and toxins found in most sources of fish, many are concerned about including fish as a consistent part of their diet. Although it would be reasonable to think that fish oils are polluted as well, for the most part, they are not. If you prefer not to consume fish you can now get all the benefits of eating fish, without the possibility of toxicity, by supplementing with fish oils. In a recent study conducted by the Globe and Mail in conjunction with CTV, it was found that:
“A person would need to consume as many as 312 fish oil capsules to be exposed to the amount of polychlorinated biphenyls in a single serving of farmed salmon. Even the cleanest serving of farmed fish had as much PBC as 63 fish oil capsules. A serving of wild salmon, which is much less contaminated than farmed fish, had the same PBC content as about 20 capsules.”
How to Choose a Fish Oil:
If you choose not to eat fish I strongly suggest that you supplement with 3-5g of EPD/DHA daily (available in capsule or liquid form). When choosing a product ensure that it has:
- Been molecularly distilled to ensure its purity.
- Been derived from smaller fish. Remember, the smaller the fish the shorter the lifespan and, therefore, the less accumulation of toxins.
- An enteric coating to ward off any “fishy repeat” and optimize digestion of the oil.
Fish Oils & Weight Loss:
Please do not be concerned about taking fish oil supplements. They will not cause you to gain weight, nor will they prohibit weight loss! Research demonstrates that supplementing with a quality fish oil (Omega 3) promotes weight loss and is necessary for the body to become leaner.
- Use a multivitamin that is specific to your gender and age.
- Women in their reproductive years require extra folic acid (1mg) and iron.
- Post-menopausal women and men over 50 years of age should take an iron-free multivitamin.
- The multivitamin should have at least 800-1000 IU’s of vitamin D.
- The vitamin B6 should be in the form of pyridoxal–5–phosphate not pyridoxine hydrochloride
- Look for a multivitamin you can take over the course of a day, rather than one a day.
It is better to choose a broad-spectrum, well-formulated supplement rather than a stand-alone nutrient, which can disrupt the metabolism of complementing nutrients. If supplements are not labelled as natural they may also include coal tars, artificial colouring, preservatives, sugars, starch and other additives that are not beneficial for your body.
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that is naturally present in very few foods. It is produced when ultraviolet rays from the sun strike the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis. Vitamin D is essential for maintaining strong, healthy bones and for promoting calcium absorption. Without adequate vitamin D, we cannot effectively metabolize calcium into our bones which may then become brittle and thin with an increased risk of osteoporosis. Vitamin D deficiency is quite common since it is difficult to obtain through food. Vitamin D has other roles in health, including immune function and reduction of inflammation.
How to Choose Vitamin D
- Vitamin D should be in the form of D3 (cholecalciferol).
- The dose should be at least 1000IU’s per serving.
So there you have it a very general guide to choosing supplements. I still highly recommend sitting down with a professional. If you would like to sit down with me for a FREE discovery session you can do so here. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve reviewed a clients supplement list and literally told them to throw out the entire lot. Quality is very important. You wouldn’t count on your neighbour to recommend medication. I feel the same way about supplements.