Tuesday, April 10, 2012

To Supplement or Not to Supplement?

Supplements are such a very individual thing. I pondered how to tackle this topic for quite some time now since I in no way want to endorse products or encourage usage of them either. Or worse, make recommendations that may not agree with your own metabolism and cause adverse reactions. If you have been keeping up with my Blog posts, you know I have a sensitivity to supplements, medicines and the like. So my rule of thumb and suggestion is that you only add one supplement at time, in the smallest dose available, and even go so far as to halve the pill even further just to see if it works for you. Some supplements will cause minor diarrhea and similar gastro distress, but this tends to last for only a few days in order for your system to adjust. Should it continue longer or become worse, or as happened to me with a blend of Chinese herbs given me by my former accupunturist, cause an immediate adverse reaction: cease and desist!

First let me say, there are a number of very good sources to read to help determine your supplemental needs at this transitional phase of a woman's life. Dr. Christiane Northrup. Dr. Susan Love, Dr. John R. Lee, Elizabeth Somer, MA, RD, and Susun Weed all offer different views on what types of supplements, both herbal and otherwise, could assist someone with the various symptoms that plague women, to varying degrees at this time of flux. Women to Women the clinic in Yarmouth, Maine started by Dr. Northrup many years a go, (she is no longer affiliated with them) offers their own proprietary blends of supplements. I am not necessarily a fan of proprietary blends as I need full disclosure in order to know precisely how much of each ingredient I am taking. You may not feel this way, and from the reviews, it would seem a lot of women have found some of their products quite useful. In addition, the information and articles on the website are well written and helpful.  I have referred to them many times for clarification on my own research when selecting supplements and much more to try.

Also, when in doubt, turn to the experts. Ask your doctor for their advice or seek the advice of other more holistically oriented medical professionals well versed in this transitional period. There is a wonderful NP, Leslee Kagan at the Henry Benson Institute in Boston, who wrote a most helpful book entitled "Mind Over Menopause." It is an abundant resource and I do suggest you read this book if you, like me, prefer to transition with things as "naturally" as possible! If you live in the New England area, Leslee offers classes in Boston to help women through the process of uncovering what works best for them. I met with her several months ago and am proud to say her response after hearing all I am doing was "so what are you here to see me for!?!" Made me feel good knowing I am moving ahead on a path toward self healing. But my knowledge seeking is done not just for me, but for all of you who may find yourselves facing the same challenges one day.

Here is what I have found works for me:

Multi vitamin: A good, comprehensive multi vitamin, high in B vitamins is SO needed for many at this time of life
Biotin: Helps with thinning hair and dry skin
Selenium: Aids thyroid and immune system functioning
Calcium and Magnesium: Strong bones, calming properties and aids better sleep
Probiotic: Aids digestion and immunity support
Vitamin D3: Mood enhancer: Get tested, if you are low, like SO many of us are, get on a high dose Vitamin D3 therapy through your health care provider
Omega 3: A truly necessary supplement for women at this time, whose benefits are far too lengthy to list here, but number one for me is pain and inflammation  reduction.

This is my regime each day. I tend to choose companies that produce pharmaceutical grade products as safety is key. Plus, I don't want a lot of fillers or odd things added into my supplements. I tend to start slow, at a low dose and add one thing at a time, only after being sure I will not have any adverse reactions. I had a good deal of trouble with fish oil supplements as I had an allergic reaction to two of them (tingling lips and a rash) so I use 100% pure salmon oil, and that works great for me.

So, read up and try to determine what your own needs might be. Make sure when you supplement that you know exactly what you are buying and use reputable companies. It may cost you some money initially to try different products, expect that to occur, since not all supplements are created equally. Two companies I happen to like very much are Solgar and NOW.  Not endorsing either of these companies or suggesting you use them, I have simply found they work for me.

Good luck!

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