Supps for the Ages

By susan Lark, MD

Our nutritional needs change as we pass through different hormonal stages. Although every woman should take a daily multivitamin, along with 1,500 mg of calcium and 750 mg of magnesium for healthy bones, also consider these age-specific hormone-balancing supplements.

Childbearing years
Omega-3 fatty acids
What they do: Help reduce breast tenderness, bloating, cramps, and PMS
Take: 1,000 mg of fish oil or 4 tablespoons of ground flaxseed daily
Grapeseed extract
What it does: Helps prevent and ease bloating
Take: 50 mg twice daily
Wheat germ oil
What it does: Rich in vitamin E, which reduces mood swings, anxiety, and menstrual pain; may increase estrogen production and reestablish healthy menstrual cycles
Take: 2,000 to 4,000 mg in divided doses or 800 IU of vitamin E daily

Premenopausal years
Soy isoflavones
What they do: Similar to estradiol—the most prominent form of estrogen in women—these balance fluctuating hormones without the risks of conventional hormone-replacement therapy
Take: 50 to 100 mg daily
Bioflavonoids
What they do: When combined with vitamin C, bioflavonoids—found in buckwheat and citrus fruit peels and pulp—modulate estrogen levels and strengthen blood vessels to reduce heavy menstrual bleeding
Take: 1,500 to 3,000 mg of bioflavonoids and 1,000 to 3,000 mg of vitamin C
Vitex (Chaste tree berry)
What it does: Normalizes hormone secretion and helps balance estrogen and progesterone
Take: 40 mg daily

Menopausal and postmenopausal years
Continue using phytoestrogens like soy and bioflavonoids
Black cohosh
What it does: Treats hot flashes, night sweats, headaches, vaginal dryness, and anxiety
Take: 40 to 80 mg twice daily
Hops
What they do: Beer’s flavoring agent contains 8-prenylnaringenin (8-PN), a potent phytoestrogen that relieves many menopause symptoms
Take: 100 mcg daily
Saffron
What it does: This bright yellow spice has traditionally been used to promote calmness and reduce irritability and hot flashes
Take: 1 pinch stirred into hot, cooked food daily