Many of my patients prevent to the clinic suffering from vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
This may be due to poor dietary intake as well as farming and agricultural methods, including the use of fertilisers, which affect the vitamin and mineral balance of the soil and in turn the food we consume.
I do recommend that most people take a multivitamin supplement to prevent deficiency, but which vitamin is right for you?
We all have differing needs from our supplements dependant on our stage of life, diet and lifestyle.
I am often confronted with explaining to my patients why their retail or multi-level marketing supplement is not working for them and thus why they should always choose a Practitioner prescribed supplement.
As is evident by looking at my clinic shelves there is not one company that I feel does the best of everything. Each of my children’s, pregnancy, men’s, fertility and over fifties multivitamins are sourced from different supplement companies.
What I look for when choosing a multivitamin is that the nutrient, herb or superfood levels are in the therapeutic range. The nutrients must also be in the correct forms for optimal absorption.
If herbs/superfoods are included in a supplement that they are in fact the right part of the plant and that they are what they say they are.
The companies I choose my supplements form do multiple tests to ensure that the herbs/foods included in the supplements have not been adulterated.
Cheaper over the counter brands often use allergenic products such as lactose/gluten in their supplements. Excipients are the compounds used to stabilise a tablet to help it stick together.
As you can see there is lots to consider when choosing the right multivitamin.
Here is a list of the different female supplements I recommend dependant on my patient’s needs.
Over 50’s patients or patients needing extra antioxidant support: Prime Essentials Multivitamin and Mineral or Mygen Health fertility formula. Some of my 60-year-old patients have a giggle when I send them out the door with a fertility formula, but the antioxidants in this Multivitamin combination are the bomb!
Patients planning to conceive in the next three months: Mygen Multivitamin for women is such a beautifully formulated preconception supplement with maximum nutrient supplementation that is needed to promote a healthy pregnancy. Antioxidant support has been proven to be very important for the development of both a healthy egg and this supplement out performs any multi in this area.
Women aiming to achieve good hormonal balance: Vital women is my multi of choice for premenopausal women who need the added benefit of herbal remedies to achieve healthy hormonal balance.
Women focussed on good oestrogen clearance: Femme Essentials Multivitamin and Mineral: this supplement is perfectly formulated to promote oestrogen clearance and thus promoting better breast health.
Pregnancy: Mygen Maternity this supplement out ranks all multivitamins when it comes to creating a healthy baby. With increased nutrient needs in pregnancy, this multi has it all covered!
To be sure you are getting the very best supplement for your needs with the best quality nutrients always ensure that you are only taking a practitioner only supplement.
Remember that some of your vitamins will only be absorbed if they are consumed with some fat so please take your multivitamins with food.
Happiness in the darker months
Finding peace and happiness in a busy lifestyle can be hard for some and the cooler months can make this particularly hard with less outdoor exercise and sun exposure resulting in less serotonin boosts and vitamin D absorption.
To help you work towards a healthy, happy winter I have put together 9 essential lifestyle and nutrition tips to keep you smiling!
1. Check your vitamin D levels, although normal range for vitamin D is between 50 and 200, the OPTIMAL range to aim for would be over 85.
Deficiency of vitamin D has significant medical and psychological consequences. Every tissue in the body has vitamin D receptors, including the brain, heart, muscles, and immune system, which means vitamin D is needed at every level for the body to function.
2. Exercise a minimum of four times per week. With improved fitness, you will notice better mood, sleeping patterns and energy levels. There is nothing like exercise to change the levels of chemicals in the brain, endorphins and to reduce stress hormones.
3. Fight off bugs with good health gut health. If you have any awareness of your digestive system, such as bloating, pain, indigestion constipation or diarrhoea, it is worthwhile addressing these by including herbal medicines, glutamine and the right type of probiotic for your system.
The gut/brain axis is a major focus of resolving underlying inflammatory drivers believed to cause depression.
4.Limit or stop your alcohol intake. Alcohol is a known depressant and yet many people use it to medicate themselves to take away the pain of depression. This quick fix, will only worsen your symptoms the next day.
5. Support your adrenals. Stress is everywhere we look these days. Promoting resiliency and managing stress via herbal adrenal support is the key when looking to reduce your nervous system from being triggered. Choosing the right adrenal tonic for yourself is the key. Feeling tired and wired? Then reach for Withania, one of my favourite adrenal tonics.
6. Take your supplements daily. The key to preventative medicine, is providing your body with all the micronutrients that even a healthy diet cannot provide, sadly our soils do not have the minerals in them that they used to as such our foods today have less nutrients, than in our grandparent’s day. I recommend that everyone should take a practitioner only, prescribed multivitamin, perhaps a methylated B vitamin tablet (if under high stress) and fish oils daily.
60 to 70% of your brain is made of fat. Ensuring that your body is provided with clean filtered fish oils will nourish your hippocampus to help your body manage stress.
7. Connect with others, join a group, contribution and sense of community helps to lift your spirits.
8. Consider mindfulness. The power of your thought is key when it comes to managing negative thought patterns. One of my favourite books is the Happiness Trap by Russ Harris.
9. Whole food is happy food! Relieve Stress with anti-inflammatory strategies. Reduce sugar, alcohol and packaged foods. Eat an abundance of vegetables, raw nuts and seeds, small portions of protein, small amounts wholegrains and dairy (optional). NB Diet is absolutely a personal choice some people thrive on a vegetarian diet whilst others prefer a Mediterranean style diet. Whatever diet you follow just choose less packaged foods and more wholefoods.
Please know that there is always someone to listen. If you feel that you can’t talk to your family or friends there are great psychologists, counsellors and hypnotherapists available to help. Speak to your doctor or health professional for a referral of who they think would best suit your needs.
Remember after the winter there is always spring 😊
Is your home making you sick?
We’re exposed to toxins in our environment almost everywhere we turn, but we do have the power to ensure our home environment is a safe haven from the chemical onslaught through our choices of cleaning products, cookware, house paint, carpet, deodorant, makeup, food, and water.
Examining each and every product we come into contact with may sound extreme, but for your health, as well as your fertility, it is necessary. Many of the chemicals that we are exposed to in our environment are endocrine disruptors i.e. they upset the natural balance of our hormones that are responsible for reproduction. Oven cleaners, deodorant, perfume, pesticides, cleaning products, insect repellents, cigarettes, shampoos, hair dyes, processed foods, deep sea fish, tooth paste, tap water, lead paint, new carpet and amalgam fillings are all sources of toxic exposure but most of these also have a natural alternative that can be so much better for your body and the environment.
Here are some practical ways to limit clean up your environment:
• Doing renovations? Use toxin-free alternatives. See www.safersolutions.org.au for more advice on healthy renovations.
• Keep your air clean with ventilation, burn essential oils and indoor house plants. N.B. Indoor plants are not only known to filter the air but also to absorb radiation.
• Don’t microwave in plastic or with glad wrap. Better still don’t microwave at all.
• Avoid pesticides in your home, garden or on your pets, there are safe natural ways.
• Use natural nail polish and remover.
• Use chemical free cosmetics, did you know that many ladies have put 200 chemicals on their face before they leave home in the morning!
• Drink filtered water.
• Use aluminium free deodorant.
• Avoid SLS in shampoo, soap, and toothpaste.
• Buy fresh foods, avoid food in plastic containers and tins
• Store your food in glass containers.
• Drink filtered tap water.
• Use essential oils instead of air freshener and perfume.
• Make your own cleaning products with vinegar, bicarbonate soda and essential oils.
• Turn off computer, wi-fi, and other electrical appliances when not in use. DO NOT have them anywhere near you while sleeping.
• Don’t smoke and avoid passive smoking.
Use a glass or aluminium water bottle. The plastic water bottles that you buy water in from the shop are only designed for single use and should not be refilled.
Limit your exposure to all forms of radiation. A study showed that when chick embryos were exposed to mobile phone radiation during the 21-day incubation period there was a five fold increase in chick deaths 1. Yes this is an animal study and may not relate to humans but at this point there has not been enough research on radiation and fertility, so best to avoid it.
The closer we get to nature, the more we can nurture ourselves in preparation for a baby. Cleaning up your environment before bub comes along, will make you more aware of the array of chemicals that we do not want to expose your child to and will inspire you to have a clean safe family home.
It’s important to remember that just because products are sold over the counter this doesn’t mean that they won’t harm you. Always remember that the cosmetic and personal care industry is a business. It is driven by the principle of maximising economic gain. So please check your bathroom cupboard and start reading the ingredients list on your personal care products and replace any products which may contain any chemicals, with organic chemical free products.
1.Youbicier-Smio, B.J. et al “biological effects of continuous exposure of embryos and young chickens to electromagnetic fields emitted by video display units” , Bioelectromagnetics, vol 18(7) (19997), pp 514 – 23)
Mythbusting Menstruation: Part 3
Testosterone? In women? What?
Okay, so I know when you hear testosterone you picture Rambo, but it’s actually really important for women too. While women have about 15 times less testosterone than men, the tiny amount we do have contributes to a healthy libido, muscle mass and bone strength, energy, mood, clear thinking and decision-making. It is a sex hormone, meaning it’s produced in the gonads – in men, that’s the testes, while in women it’s produced in the ovaries. Getting enough quality sleep is important for hormone production as the endocrine system is particularly active at night. Adequate protein and plenty of good fats are also important, and zinc and vitamin D are two nutrients particularly linked to testosterone levels.
As we’ve said before, it’s less about how much testosterone a woman might have in total, and more about how much she has compared to other hormones, in particular how much oestrogen she has. After menopause, when oestrogen levels drop, a woman’s testosterone levels get comparatively higher. This is likely responsible for your granny’s whiskers and your mum’s moustache (which you should never, ever mention). In younger women suffering polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), excess testosterone can cause irregular menstrual cycles, facial and body hair growth, acne, mood changes and weight gain. On the other hand, not enough testosterone can cause lack of libido, muscle loss, low energy and mood changes. The best way to get hormone levels checked is by talking to your natural health provider about salivary testing. They can take a sample of your saliva and send it for analysis. General practitioners can also refer you for blood tests; however for a complete hormone picture this is less accurate.
So, what’s a guy to do with all this new info on his lady’s testosterone? Firstly, as always, be aware. If she is ticking boxes for too much or too little, encourage her to talk to her naturopath (there are a number of herbal remedies to help create perfect hormonal balance). Help her to look after her sleep and diet. Eat some oysters in the sunshine for that zinc and vitamin D! Yes, that may be the reasoning behind oyster’s reputation as an aphrodisiac… they have really high levels of zinc, which is needed for testosterone production (as well as a multitude of other things like mood regulation and immune function). Don’t forget flowers! Actually a bunch of flowers won’t balance her hormones per say but may indeed bring out the warmth that you are looking for.
Mythbusting Menstruation: Part 2
PMS, the syndrome that has spawned a thousand acronyms!
The internet will give you many “definitions” of PMS. Many are not particularly flattering to women, and show a certain culture of disdain and dismissal, but some actually describe common premenstrual symptoms. For example, ‘Pissy Mood Syndrome’ or ‘Psychotic Mood Shift’ show the anger and irritability, while ‘Plainly, Men Suck’ demonstrates the resentment some women feel that men don’t have to deal with all this. ‘Pardon My Sobbing’ shows how some women suffer depression, ‘Puffy Mid-Section’ refers to abdominal bloating, ‘Pass My Sweatpants’ illustrates the feelings of being overwhelmed, tired and wanting to just curl up on the couch. ‘Pimples May Surface’ – acne. ‘Perpetual Munching Spree’ – sugar cravings. I could go on, but I think you get the point….premenstrual syndrome can be pretty intense and given that about 85% of women experience at least some symptoms, it’s something you should be aware of! Other symptoms may include sore or swollen breasts, insomnia, constipation or diarrhoea, headache or migraine, flare ups of skin conditions (acne, psoriasis, eczema), increased or decreased appetite, joint or muscle pain, trouble concentrating, lack of motivation or clarity, or feeling weepy, anxious or depressed.
So what’s the deal, why does this all happen? As with the whole cycle, it’s to do with hormones. The thing to remember about hormones is that it’s less to do with the exact amount of any given hormone, and more to do with the ratio of one hormone to another, and the balance of them all. As we said before, no hormone plays alone. Each of these hormones interacts with each other and all the other hormones and hormone receptors in the body – cortisol, the stress hormone, and melatonin, the sleep hormone and every single one. Now remember back to the luteal phase we talked about last time, and how the corpus luteum forms from the follicle which released the egg. If the egg is fertilised, the corpus luteum is sustained by HCG and thus continues progesterone production (which sustains oestrogen levels). If the egg is not fertilised, the corpus luteum degenerates, causing a drop in progesterone and oestrogen. It is this drop in hormones which cause PMS. Just as the high levels of oestrogen around ovulation contribute to feelings of relaxation and wellbeing, now the drop causes the symptoms mentioned above.
We’re not entirely sure why some women get PMS when others don’t, and what influences the severity. With that said, here are a few ideas to gently suggest or surprise her with next time she’s suffering:
• Diet – help her eat plenty of good quality proteins and lots of green leafy veg. Fibre will help hormone and digestive regulation.
• Exercise – tread carefully here, guys! If she says “ugh I feel so bloated, look at my belly!”, I wouldn’t respond with “maybe you should go for a run”. Maybe try suggesting this before PMS kicks in? Then the seed is planted and you can raise it again during PMS with “how about we go for a walk together?” or something like that.
• Hydration – offer her a cool glass of water or a nice herbal tea, or a fresh green smoothie.
• Minimise alcohol. Help the body concentrate on processing hormones rather than toxins.
• If she has sugar cravings, provide healthier options (again, tread warily). Make sure you have her favourite sugar-free chocolate on hand, and some dried fruit and nuts.
• Massage. Always a winner.
• If her symptoms are severe, encourage her to talk to her health practitioner. There are many herbs and supplements which can really help balance these hormones and smooth out the ride a little.
Thanks for reading, guys, and check in next time when we talk about why women have testosterone.
Mythbusting Menstruation: Part 1
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The ups and downs of women’s hormones
Okay, guys, listen up! We know that you know that women are complex creatures, and that’s one of the things you love about us, right? But sometimes it can be a little overwhelming trying to understand where your lady friend is at, when she’s loving and affectionate one day and Ms Crankypants the next. Over the next three posts we’ll be helping you unravel some of the mysteries of their menstrual cycle, shed some light on PMS, and explain how you can help her through it all….follow along for your sake as much as hers!
First up, we’ll look at the hormonal roller coaster ride women take each and every month. There are three main hormones at play here: oestrogen, luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). The menstrual cycle can be split into three phases as each of the hormones peaks and falls to stimulate changes in the ovaries and uterus. Each hormone provides feedback to influence the others – no hormone plays alone.
The first phase features higher levels of FSH, and it’s all there in the name. It stimulates the ovarian follicles, getting them ready to release an egg. As the follicles mature, they secrete increasing levels of oestrogen, which prompts the uterus lining to thicken (proliferate), ready to house the egg if it is fertilised. Oestrogen increases serotonin (the happy hormone) so in this phase women are usually feeling pretty good. So in the ovarian cycle this is called the follicular phase and it corresponds to the proliferation phase in the uterine cycle.
Next up, in the ovaries, we have ovulation. Oestrogen levels hit a peak, and where they were suppressing the luteinising hormone (LH), now they cross a threshold and cause a surge in LH, prompting the release of the mature egg from the ovarian follicles. At this time of the month your lady is likely to look at you with that sparkle in her eye that says she is finding you super attractive! It is typical at this time of the cycle i.e. the middle of the cycle, that she will have lots of energy and a lot more interest in you. Biochemically the body is ready to conceive at this time thus the increase in libido. This is the time to live life to the fullest as you are likely to have a very loving and attentive partner at this time.
Quite often this feeling will only last up until the end of the cycle, the week prior to the her period she is likely not to find you quite so attractive as her follicle stimulating, luteinising and oestrogen hormone levels drop. So this is the time of the month to make plans for a romantic weekend away!