How can supplements help with the menopause?
Hi Liza, we're such huge fans of your supplements! Tell us about you and your journey into nutrition...
I’m a registered nutritional therapist and founder of wellness company, Inessa. Inessa started as a nutrition and functional medicine clinic back in 2009. As the clinic grew, there was one thing that really stood out to me; that quality nutritional supplements could be incredibly effective, and when used alongside a healthy diet, could dramatically improve a person’s health.
This was something I had experienced for myself, after being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, a lifelong autoimmune condition, in 2001. The prescribed medication made my hair fall out among other side effects, but didn’t improve my symptoms and so the recommended next step would be to undergo life changing surgery.
At that time, the importance of nutrition and diet was not as well understood as it is today, but as mine was a disease of the digestive tract, I felt there had to be something there. Determined to find a solution, and still being monitored by my medical team, I started researching and self-testing to find a way to fix my health (something I don’t advise doing without the approval of a doctor). A year later I was confirmed in remission and have not had to take immunosuppressants since.
When did you come up with the idea for your own range of supplements?
I later decided to qualify as a nutritional therapist, and over the years I was in full-time clinical practice, noted that there was no shortage of practitioner brands creating quality, science-based products. Many of these products were not available on the high street – in order to gain access, you’d often have to see a nutrition professional, which not everyone can afford. I also observed that across the industry as a whole, customers would take multiple products to achieve the nutrient combinations and results they desired – this was not only impractical, but also horribly expensive. This prompted me to create my own products, and having built a network within the industry, I was able to bring together the UK’s leading product developers, laboratories and researchers to work with me to create a streamlined range which made no compromises on quality or effectiveness.
The menopause is a difficult time for many women, are your supplements beneficial for some of the changes they go through?
Although we don’t make a specific product for perimenopause or menopause, several of the Inessa products are beneficial for women going through, and after, the change. In fact, some of the best feedback we get is actually from this group of women.
Our Advanced Multivitamin was specifically designed to replace the need to purchase several different products, and it is unique in the market in that it incorporates a wide range of nutrients in clinically therapeutic doses. It can benefit menopausal and perimenopausal women on multiple levels, including supporting hormonal balance, energy production, and mood. It includes a full spectrum of B vitamins, which as well as being key for optimal energy production, are known to help regulate mood, and play a role in the production of the happy hormone, serotonin. B-vitamins are also involved in the production and utilisation of our sex hormones - especially oestrogen, and they support cardiovascular health through regulation of homocysteine. Homocysteine is an amino acid naturally present in the blood, and elevated levels - shown to affect some postmenopausal women - are linked to a whole host of diseases including dementia, heart disease, stroke, and osteoporosis. It also contains a full 100mg dose of CoQ10, a nutrient that is essential for good cardiovascular health and energy production.
As both heart health and energy levels can suffer as a result of menopause, and very little can be found in food, additional intake can benefit women. Studies also suggest that supplementing with CoQ10 can help slow cognitive decline in postmenopausal women and can be important for those taking hormone replacement therapy, statin or thyroid medications, all of which can deplete our CoQ10 levels. In addition to these key nutrients for the menopause, the product contains relevant doses of vitamin D3 and K2 to support bone health, and a wide spectrum of micronutrients to benefit overall wellbeing, lift mood, boost energy, and support hormonal balance.
Can Omega 3 also help?
Definitely. Omega 3 fatty acids DHA and EPA are important at any stage of life, but especially so throughout perimenopause and beyond. The primary food source is oily fish, a food that not everyone is keen on, and a regular intake is required to get optimal amounts. So we often recommend our Advanced Omega 3 fish oil to help support women experiencing low mood, joint pain and stiffness, as well as skin changes - such as dryness. Essential fatty acids also play a key role in hormone synthesis, so supplemental omega 3 can also help with hormonal balance. Vegan alternatives to fish oil supplements are also available, so vegan and vegetarian women can still supplement with omega 3s, but may need to take several capsules per day, as dosing of EPA and DHA in algae sourced supplements tends to be low.
How important is it for people to combine supplements with other areas of a healthy lifestyle ie diet & exercise?
Diet and lifestyle is key to good health, and in fact there is evidence to show that they can have a significant impact on perimenopause and menopause symptoms. Supplements, when used in quality forms and relevant doses can really amplify the effects of good diet and lifestyle, but they are best used together.
Prevention is always better than cure - do you think it’s important for people to incorporate supplements into their wellness routine before they start to notice problems?
Often people start to look at changing their lifestyles and taking supplements as a result of a health scare, but the ideal time to start is before you encounter issues. When it comes to supplements, I don’t believe that you need to be taking lots and lots of products if you are in general good health. Supporting your diet with a good quality multivitamin and mineral product containing relevant dose of vitamin D3, as well as an omega 3 product, are adequate for most people who have a varied diet. Supplements are also beneficial to plug any nutritional gaps for those who follow more restrictive diets or who - for whatever reason - perhaps struggle to eat well every day.
Do you find that there are mental and emotional benefits to taking supplements as well as purely physical?
Good quality supplements taken in the right doses can have a profound effect on health and by default, emotional wellbeing. Whilst some health conditions aren’t visible on the outside, many are. So if the diet and supplements you’ve been using have had a beneficial effect on your eczema or acne, or your hormones are more balanced and this in turn has reduced the hot flushes you’re experiencing, then that in turn is going to have a positive effect on your self-confidence. In some cases, feeling healthier, living without pain, resolving gut issues or experiencing the physical changes that come with better health can be completely transformative on a person’s mental health.
Additionally, there is robust evidence to show that specific nutrients - sometimes used as part of a wider treatment plan - can have a positive impact on mood and some mental health conditions.
What to try these incredible supplements for yourself? Discover the world of Inessa wellness right here!