Perimenopause symptoms such as weight gain, mood swings, hot flashes, fatigue, and night sweats come when our hormone levels drop as we age. Thankfully, there’s help to manage these uncomfortable afflictions. These are the ten most highly recommended supplements and vitamins for perimenopause.
Health Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is to provide general information only, and the health and nutritional recommendations included should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Since all women have unique health and wellness situations, The Joyful Life Magazine recommends that you thoroughly research all treatment options mentioned and/or consult with a registered healthcare professional before making any changes to your healthcare regime.
Storming down the hall, I slammed my bedroom door, slunk to the floor, and leaned my weary head against it. I fought tears as I drew in a long breath. Maybe if I had just two moments to myself, I could get hold of my warring emotions. That such overreaction felt normal these days scared me.
My kids kept asking, “What’s wrong Mom?” But how could I respond when I didn’t know? My weary heart just felt off. My mind didn’t think as quickly, and every minor inconvenience seemed insurmountable. I just couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Had my years of motherhood, homemaking, homeschooling, and life-living taken more of a toll than I realized?
After a few moments of self pity, I grabbed my proverbial boots and told myself to buck up, pull myself together, have another cup of coffee, and make it happen.
I scolded my will, “Quit being lazy.”
I warned my heart, “Don’t be weak.”
I instructed my emotions, “Be quiet and get back in your box.”
One day, however, a friend mentioned her issues with perimenopause and my head jerked up as light bulbs lit my foggy brain. The impending sentence of menopause had seemed far enough away that I’d never even considered the precursor. I realized I was the right age for this new stage, and if perimenopause was the explanation, I needed some help!
Perimenopause occurs as our bodies gradually produce less estrogen, as well as other hormones, to prepare our bodies to stop ovulating. Because my cycle still occurred like clockwork, I hadn’t realized these internal changes were radically affecting me. But when I researched the symptoms, I saw myself clearly.
Every woman experiences the changes differently, so don’t worry if your symptoms differ from your friends. Since hormones decline over time, your signs might appear so slowly that you don’t realize the source of the issues. Regardless of what you experience, help exists to moderate your body’s reaction to these hormonal shifts.
There are pharmaceutical solutions available that you should discuss with your doctor. Since my mom had already experienced estrogen-dependent breast cancer after being on Hormone Replacement Therapy, I didn’t even consider estrogen replacement as an option for me, personally. Yet, having used natural supplements for other health concerns through the years, I knew there must be solutions there. So I researched—a task Google makes both easy and scary. Who could I trust and what advice was valuable?
Since I wasn’t sure, I made a chart to compare which vitamins and supplements were most often recommended. I assumed the more the ‘experts’ listed a supplement, the more likely it would be helpful.
Before I share the information I discovered, please realize I am not a health care practitioner. The research I am sharing should always be discussed with your own health care provider first before adding any supplements to your routine—especially since plant supplements can interfere with medications you currently take.
Before you consider adding supplements to your diet, begin by making a list of your most nagging symptoms. That way you can compare how you felt before and after starting the regimen.
For most women, the hot flashes (I refer to them as my own personal summer) and brain fog are the most irritating. Add to that weight gain, even when your eating habits haven’t changed, and we can all feel a bit depressed, a feeling intensified by the tendency toward lower spirits as the hormones fade.
Irregular periods that become unpredictable in timing and intensity can create havoc. Sleep ceases being easy or rarely lasts for the entire night. When you add to that decreased energy for normal things, as well as dropping libido and vaginal dryness, all the women cry out, “Help!”
Thankfully, the Lord filled the earth with good plants and vitamins that hold strong properties to aid us on this journey. Most supplements are derived from plants that are not a part of our normal diets. Historically, people used plant products to deal with physical ailments, long before our plethora of pharmaceuticals existed.
When I began looking into which supplements to take, I found it confusing and cost prohibitive. I don’t want to do the same to you, so I’m choosing to share just five of the most commonly suggested supplements and vitamins from my own personal study. Nobody wants to consume 20 pills a day! Also, just because five are recommended does not mean you need to take all of them.
Please realize one thing: most supplements take longer to affect your body than western medicine. For most, consistent long-term use brings the best results. So how do you know if a supplement actually helps you?
As I’ve stated before, I’m not a trained medical person so take my next suggestion like I’m a friend and we’re discussing things over coffee. I personally test if a supplement works for me by taking it regularly for at least two months. Then I stop consuming it for a few weeks to see if I notice a difference.
It often surprises me how different I feel when I cease taking a supplement. Because I was feeling more normal, I didn’t think they were helping, but I forgot that normal was what I was shooting for! When I find old symptoms returning and energy falling, I tend to quickly add the supplement back in.
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With all that disclaimer business out of the way, here are the five supplements and vitamins for perimenopause that I have found to be the most recommended.
5 SUPPLEMENTS FOR PERIMENOPAUSE
1. Black Cohosh
Black Cohosh occurs on more lists, by far, than any other supplement. Used widely by many cultures, it addresses several of the perimenopause and menopause challenges. Studies have shown it helps decrease hot flashes, and if you’ve experienced one of those lovely moments of internal combustion, you might rush to order some right away. There are studies that link this herb to mental health benefits, as well.
Combination supplements created to address perimenopause symptoms may already contain Black Cohosh so if you take one of those, check your ingredient list before adding this. You don’t want to take too much!
Maca, derived from the roots of a Peruvian herb, has become very popular recently. It comes in pill form or as a powder that can be added to foods.
Traditionally, it’s reported to help hot flashes and even depression. But its most toted benefit is assisting in the lowered sex drive often experienced during this stage, and the studies, at least so far, look promising.
3. Vitex (Chaste Berry)
When I began my research, I’d never heard of Vitex, or its common name of chaste berry. The extracts of this plant seem to help increase the levels of progesterone, which matters because estrogen isn’t the only hormone in short supply as our bodies change. Many report that it helps balance hormones and helps with moodiness.
One note, Vitex particularly needs to be taken for a longer time to see results. Rigorous studies have not yet been performed on this supplement, though there is strong anecdotal support.
Valerian is a supplement that receives support from traditional medicine and natural practitioners. It seems especially helpful in reducing hot flashes and also can help improve sleep. Many also find it beneficial with anxiety and depression. Used since Greek and Roman times, Valerian has a long history of use.
Rhodiola supplements are derived from the root of the plant and have what is called an adaptogenic effect on the body. I will not try to explain what I don’t understand, but I can tell you that it helps the body combat stress and all the negative fallout of the massive amounts of stress we live under every day.
Since perimenopause lands in the time of life in which most women are dealing with the busy middle years of family life, stress is a given. But stress also sabotages our health. This supplement, and its cousin Ashwanganda, can be very helpful for this.
5 VITAMINS FOR PERIMENOPAUSE
Our body always synthesizes vitamins most effectively from the food we consume. But our busy lifestyles and eating habits make it difficult to receive everything we need from eating alone. Additionally, our vitamin needs don’t decrease with age but intensify as we travel through the significant shifts our bodies make during perimenopause.
I found most ‘experts’ commonly agree that we especially need the following vitamins as we approach this season of life.
1. Vitamin D
One issue of aging bodies is loss of bone health. Vitamin D is essential to maintain strong bones and also greatly aids calcium absorption. For me, the best source of D is the sun. Not only does it help me produce this important vitamin, but being outside assists my mental health.
Our indoor, sedentary lives wreak havoc on our bones, so we really need to make sure we get enough D. We can achieve that through increased time outside or supplementation, or even better, both!
2 & 3. Vitamin B-12 and Vitamin B-6
I’m putting the B vitamins together because often what there is to say about one applies to the other. Both B6 and B12 help with energy, mental health, and depleted nervous systems. Both can fight insomnia and reduce hot flashes.
Common B6 sources are poultry and fish. Fruits and vegetables with B6 include cantaloupes, papayas, oranges, and dark leafy greens. It is possible to overdo the B6, so don’t exceed 100 milligrams a day.
B12 is found mainly in animal-based products such as eggs, dairy, and meat. If you’re vegan, you probably need to look for enriched foods or take a supplement.
4. Vitamin E
Dropping estrogen increases the risk of heart disease and Vitamin E, with its anti-clotting abilities, is especially important for heart health. Being an antioxidant, it helps protect us from the oxidation and free radicals that cause our bodies harm. It also boosts our immunity and eases stress.
Vitamin E is best received through food like nuts, seeds, and oils. Avocados are also a great source, so bring on the guacamole! Broccoli, squash, and spinach all contain vitamin E.
5. Vitamin A
Vitamin A is not only necessary for healthy bones, it also aids our immune systems and vision.
As one of the vitamins that can be harmful if taken in high quantities, we should mainly ingest it from our food. Beef, butter, and cheese contain vitamin A, so now you can slather rich butter on your toast and enjoy it for the sake of your bones.
Our bodies, which really are amazing machines, produce vitamin A from beta carotene which we can consume through fruits and vegetables like carrots, yellow squash, kale, mango, and grapefruit.
A FINAL ENCOURAGEMENT
I’ve successfully passed through the waters of perimenopause and menopause and can officially claim to be post-menopausal now. At this point, I’m grateful for every healthy choice I made through the years of this journey. Beginning supplements during the perimenopausal stage helped me feel healthier and stronger now, and I continue to find supplements beneficial for my mental and physical health.
Adding supplements can help ease the symptoms of the confusing, rollercoaster of hormones we experience in perimenopause. But remember, reducing stress, exercising, and getting enough sleep are also vital components of maintaining a healthy body.
Our perimenopausal years are often highly demanding family years, which can complicate our efforts to take care of ourselves. But a healthy and happy mom blesses the family more than a stressed and depleted one. So take your vitamins, go for a walk, talk to Jesus, and take care of yourself!
How have you supported or enhanced your own health and wellness in the perimenopause stage of life? We’d love to hear your experience!
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