Will supplements help support my perimenopausal symptoms?
One of the questions I often get asked and see being asked on social media is ‘will supplements help me with my perimenopause symptoms?’. The answer to this question isn’t straightforward unfortunately as it depends on your personal circumstances, the symptoms you are experiencing and if you are taking any prescribed medication. However, I am going to answer the question and I will do my best to keep it on point and simple.
As I’m sure you are already aware, perimenopause is the point in your life where you experience lots of different changes which can be both physical and emotional. And, if you are anything like I was you may not have joined all the dots up and realised that you are perimenopausal. It’s a confusing and tough time as life may feel overwhelming and you my feel unsure about what to do about your symptoms. If you are finding this period of your life challenging, I hope you find this information both supportive so that you can navigate the perimenopause in a more positive way.
Before we get started it is important that I add this caveat, if you are considering taking any kind of supplement, it is important that you seek the advice of a health professional (someone like me!). This is especially important if you are taking any prescribed medication as your medication may interact with certain supplements.
Common perimenopause symptoms
Perimenopause will be different for each individual woman, but some of the most common symptoms are listed below. These symptoms can vary in intensity and duration but are primarily a result of hormonal fluctuations. Some of the most prevalent perimenopause symptoms include:
1. Changes to menstrual cycles: One of the earliest signs, menstrual cycles may become irregular, with varying cycle lengths and flow or they could still be regular, but you may find your periods are very heavy and you are leaking despite wearing a menstrual cup and period underwear.
2. Hot flushes and night sweats: Sudden, intense feelings of heat, often accompanied by sweating and flushing and waking up a bit smelly.
3. Mood Swings and Emotional Changes: Hormonal fluctuations can lead to mood swings, irritability, and heightened emotional sensitivity.
4. Sleep Disturbances: Many women experience sleep disruptions, such as insomnia or waking up frequently during the night.
5. Vaginal Changes: Reduced oestrogen levels can cause vaginal dryness, leading to discomfort during intercourse.
6. Changes in Libido: Some women may notice changes in sexual desire during perimenopause.
7. Physical Symptoms: These can include breast tenderness, headaches, and joint pain.
Supplements for Perimenopause
Magnesium is a versatile mineral that plays a crucial role in various bodily functions, including muscle and nerve function, bone health, making energy and regulating blood sugar levels. During perimenopause, magnesium can be especially beneficial in managing symptoms such as mood swings, anxiety, and sleep disturbances. Magnesium is also involved in in the production of sex hormones so it may help with your sex hormone balance, and it is also used to produce your thyroid hormones.
The recommended daily intake of magnesium for women in the UK is 270mg a day for women (19 to 64 years) Additionally, magnesium can work synergistically with other supplements, such as calcium and vitamin D, to support bone health during this phase.
Food sources of magnesium include:
· Nuts and seeds
· Whole grains
· Leafy green vegetables
· Dark chocolate
Calcium is essential for maintaining strong bones and teeth. During perimenopause, when oestrogen levels decline, women are at increased risk of bone loss and osteoporosis. The recommended daily intake of calcium for adults aged 19 to 64 and over is 700mg of calcium a day.
It's important to note that calcium is more effective when taken alongside magnesium and vitamin D, which work together to promote bone density.
Food sources of calcium include:
· Dairy products
· Leafy green vegetables
· Fortified plant-based milk
· Canned fish with edible bones (like salmon and sardines)
Vitamin D is essential for bone health, immune function, and overall well-being. During perimenopause, maintaining adequate vitamin D levels is crucial, as it can help support bone density and reduce the risk of fractures.
When it comes to determining your dosage of vitamin D, I always recommend taking a test to see what your levels are and then base your supplement dosage on this. You can ask your GP to test your vitamin D or you can buy a finger prick test to do at home and send off to assess your personal vitamin D status.
Sources of vitamin D:
· Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna)
· Cod liver oil
· Fortified dairy products (milk, yogurt)
· Fortified plant-based milk (soy or almond milk)
· Egg yolks
· Sunlight exposure (UV rays trigger vitamin D production in the skin)
B vitamins, including B6, B12, and folate, are essential for various bodily functions, including energy production, mood regulation, and cognitive function. During perimenopause, these vitamins can be crucial for managing mood swings, fatigue, and cognitive changes such as memory problems.
The recommended intake for female adults, aged 19 – 64 is:
· B6 is 1.2mg
· Folate is 200 micrograms of folate a day
· B12 is 200 micrograms of folate a day
Food sources of b vitamins include:
B6: Poultry, tuna, salmon, bananas, beans, especially chickpeas and lentils.
B12: Animal products (beef, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs)
Folate: Leafy green vegetables (spinach, kale, collard greens), legumes (lentils, chickpeas, black-eyed peas), citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits), avocado, asparagus and liver.
If you are vegetarian or vegan supplementing B12 is important as it is only found in animal products.
Red clover is a rich source of phytoestrogens, which are plant compounds that mimic the effects of oestrogen in the body. Phytoestrogens can help balance hormone levels during perimenopause and alleviate some symptoms associated with oestrogen decline.
Red clover supplements may help reduce the frequency and severity of hot flushes and night sweats. They can also contribute to better overall hormonal balance, which can positively impact mood and vaginal health.
Shatavari and Ashwagandha
Shatavari and Ashwagandha are adaptogenic herbs with a long history of use in traditional medicine, particularly in Ayurveda. These herbs have adaptogenic properties, meaning they can help the body adapt to stress and maintain balance.
During perimenopause, women often experience increased stress levels due to hormonal changes and associated symptoms. Shatavari and Ashwagandha may help manage stress and promote a sense of calm and well-being. They can also support hormonal balance and address symptoms like anxiety and mood swings.
If you are considering taking any of the supplements I have recommended above, please remember to speak to a health professional. This is really important if you are taking any prescribed medication due to any potential interactions.
If you would like to discuss any of the above supplements or your symptoms with me you are more than welcome to book in for a free no obligation chat with me. Click here to book.