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Supplements For Women

Whether it be premenstrual syndrome or menopause, or the life stages of pregnancy or breastfeeding, there seems to always come a time when we could use a little extra support.

 

 

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) was largely non-existent one-hundred years ago, with its prevalence increasing alarmingly to date. An epidemiological study published in 2014 in The Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research showed that 47.8% of women of reproductive age suffer with PMS, and that the rate of occurrence drastically changes between countries. The French have the lowest incidence, at 12%, the highest of which was found in Iran, at a staggering 98%. The signs and symptoms of PMS vary from person to person, though the most common ones are bloating, breast tenderness, cramping and food cravings, all of which disappear with menstrual flow. There are many herbal medicines and nutrients that can be helpful during these times, such as Vitamin B6 (or pyridoxal-5-phosphate), magnesium and Vitex agnus-castus. A study published in 2010 by the Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research demonstrated that a supplement of magnesium (250mg elemental/day) and B6 (40mg/day) taken daily significantly reduced anxiety, depression, headache and nausea, plus many other symptoms, as compared to the placebo group. Magnesium is typically known to be excellent for the prevention and treatment of menstrual cramping, as it helps to relax the smooth muscles of the uterus. However, restoring intracellular (inside the cell) magnesium levels takes time, and one would ideally supplement daily for months, rather than use this supplement symptomatically, when dealing with a deficiency or insufficiency.

 

 

An interesting piece of research was published in 2013 in the Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research regarding the effects of 3 hours per week of aerobic exercise on PMS. This study examined the effects of this in non-athletic girls aged 18-25 years, and involved three bouts of 60 minutes per week aerobic exercise. The study showed that this level of activity could reduce signs and symptoms of PMS by 33% over a 2 month period. The researchers assessed both psychological and physical markers.

 

 

There are many herbal medicines and nutrients helpful for the progression into menopause as well. When it comes to hot flushing, Sage is specific, while any herb that acts as a phytoestrogen can be helpful. Phytoestrogens are plant compounds that are estrogen-like, and when they bind to an estrogen receptor send a signal to the cell that estrogen levels are not so bad. This can "quieten down" many of the signs and symptoms, particularly hot flushing. Glycine max (soybean extract) and red clover are examples of phytoestrogen-containing ingredients.

 

 

Raspberry Leaf and a good quality multivitamin and mineral are great for support during pregnancy, with the multi also helpful for general nutrition during breastfeeding. Interestingly, protein and general nutrition needs are higher during breastfeeding than at any other life stage, even higher than pregnancy itself! So it is essential during this time that adequate nutrients and calories are provided to maintain body weight and general health.

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