Today, we gathered with Elektra’s founding physician, Dr. Anna Barbieri, for an Ask Elektra Anything on supplements. She covered it all: which brands are known for their safety and manufacturing standards, which supplements are best for (peri)menopause symptoms, and which don’t have the greatest evidence behind them.
We’re sharing a few of the top questions and answers below, and a link to the recording is here. (Use password TABOO to access).
What do I have to keep in mind when using supplements?
1) Supplements are just that, supplemental. Eating a healthy diet, exercising, and other lifestyle factors come first.
2) It’s important to know how to choose the right supplement. Ideally, you can work with a provider who can help make sure you’re using something that has evidence of efficacy (i.e., studies showing that it can help) and lack of harm — and is safe for you.
If you’re not working with a provider, do your own research with reliable sources (two of our favorites are Memorial Sloan Kettering’s About Herbs, Harvard Health). Make sure that they won’t interact with any medication you’re already taking. About Herbs and Drugs.com can help you check.
3) Make sure supplements are actually helping you. Reassess after you’ve been taking them for 2-3 months to see if they are helping or not - should you stop, change or continue?
So many brands! How do I know which to choose?
Supplements are unregulated, so it’s incredibly important to choose a manufacturer that has strict quality assurance protocols and is transparent about them, so that you know what you are getting is what’s on the label. When looking at a supplement, make sure these items are on the label:
General statement of use (if it says “cure” put it down! It’s not true!)
Specific instructions on dose and how to take it (example: 3 tabs at night)
Name and address of manufacturer
Some brands* we love: Metagenics, NOW, Nordic Naturals, Gaia Herbs and Pure Encapsulations
Help! I need sleep!
Some options to consider for a good night’s rest are:
Melatonin: 1-6 mg, taken 60-90 minutes before bedtime
Magnesium: 400-500 mg per day taken 60 minutes before bedtime
Also available in foods like leafy greens, salmon, nuts, seeds, and legumes
Ashwagandha: 250-300 mg twice daily
Help! My hot flashes are out of control!
There are some supplements that can help ease the severity of hot flashes.
Black cohosh - a phytoestrogen, 40-80 mg, twice daily
Soy - another phytoestrogen, can be taken in several different forms, including from food like tofu and edamame
*Elektra Health is not paid to feature these or any products. We just like them and think you may like them too, though we can't guarantee any results.
As with anything you put into your body, taking dietary supplements can also involve health risks. You should consult a medical professional before taking supplements and inform your doctor about any supplements, as well as any medications you already take, since there may be interactions.
This information is for general educational purposes, and should not be used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any health condition or problem.