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Navigating Perimenopause: I'm Hitting my 40's, Should I be Taking Supplements?

As we reach our 40s, many of us start wondering if we need to add supplements to our daily routine. I often get asked, "should I be using protein powder or taking supplement x?"


The Need for Individualised Recommendations

To determine whether or not supplements are necessary, several factors need to be considered. For example, what is the purpose of taking supplements and what are your unique needs, health concerns, or existing medical conditions? Rather than spending a significant amount of money on a heap of different supplements, it is important to be selective and purposeful in your choices.


Natural does not equal Safe

Supplements can potentially be dangerous if taken inappropriately. Natural does not necessarily equal safe and many 'natural' supplements also have the potential to interact with your medications. Therefore, it is essential to inform your doctor if you decide to incorporate any supplements into your routine.


Take a Food First Approach

Taking a food-first and lifestyle-first approach is always recommended. Supplements should be seen as exactly that – supplements to support your lifestyle choices, not a quick fix. If your sleep patterns are erratic, stress levels are through the roof, or your eating habits are inconsistent; supplements will not magically solve these issues. Instead, focus on improving your nutrition, exercise, sleep, and stress management as these elements are likely to have a greater impact on your overall feeling of wellbeing.


An exception to this rule is if you have a specific condition or deficiency, such as iron deficiency, then immediate supplementation will be beneficial.


Supplements to Consider:

While individual needs vary, here are some supplements that are commonly considered for women, particularly those entering perimenopause:


Protein Powder:

As we age, our ability to digest, absorb, and utilize protein declines. During the perimenopause transition, it's essential to protect muscle mass, which can be supported through increased protein intake. Aim to include a variety of protein sources including meat, chicken, fish, eggs, tofu, lentils, legumes, cottage cheese, milk and greek yoghurt. For meals or snacks that are a little light on in protein, a supplement can be a useful addition. I would usually recommend a whey protein isolate or whey protein concentrate. Look on the label to ensure it contains at least 75g of protein per 100g.


Creatine:

Creatine is one of the most well-researched supplements. It is safe to take and can be especially beneficial for women given our creatine stores are generally lower than men's. Whether you are resistance training or not (but I hope you are!!), I would consider creatine supplementation as it has been shown to improve strength and exercise performance. Some studies have also suggested creatine may also provide cognitive benefits for aging brains. Look for 'creatine monohydrate'.


Omega-3 Fish Oil:

Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil can help improve cholesterol profiles, particularly lowering triglycerides. Additionally, these fatty acids may positively impact mood and are a key part of an anti-inflammatory eating pattern. Don't forget to look for food sources of Omega 3's such as oily (e.g. salmon). You may also wish to consider adding a high-quality fish oil supplement to your routine.


Magnesium:

Known for its potential benefits in sleep, muscle relaxation, and mood regulation, magnesium is another supplement to consider. But don't forget to include magnesium containing foods in your diet such as leafy green vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains.


A Note on Iron and Vitamin D:

Optimal iron and vitamin D levels are crucial for overall health. If your iron or vitamin D stores are not optimal, supplements might be necessary. However, I would recommend having your blood levels checked before starting any supplementation.


Take home messages

While supplements can play a supportive role, it is important to prioritise obtaining essential nutrients through a well-rounded diet. A food-first approach ensures that you are getting a variety of nutrients naturally and supports optimal health.


Supplements should never replace a balanced diet or healthy lifestyle. Consider them as an addition to support your efforts in maintaining overall health and well-being. Ensure you source quality supplements and consult with your healthcare professional before introducing new supplements into your routine.


As women navigate perimenopause, it's crucial to pay attention to nutrition, exercise, sleep, and stress management. While supplements can provide additional support, a holistic approach is essential for optimal well-being. Remember, everyone's needs are different, and consulting with healthcare professionals ensures you receive personalised guidance.

 

Can you recognise the signs and symptoms of Perimenopause? Take my 'Are you in Peri' Quiz and you will also receive my 4 top tips for getting started in terms of lifestyle management.


 



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The information provided in this blog is for your personal or other non-commercial, educational purposes. It should not be considered as medical or professional advice. We recommend you consult with a GP or other healthcare professional before taking or omitting to take any action based on this blog. While the author uses best endeavours to provide accurate and true content, the author makes no guarantees or promises and assumes no liability regarding the accuracy, reliability or completeness of the information presented. The information, opinions, and recommendations presented in this blog are for general information only and any reliance on the information provided in this blog/article/handout is done at your own risk. Any third-party materials or content of any third-party site referenced in this blog do not necessarily reflect the author’s opinion, standards or policies and the author does not assume any liability for them whatsoever.

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