A one-size-fits-all supplement plan doesn’t fit all. These customized guidelines address the individual health challenges faced by men and women.
For Women Only
Uniquely female conditions can strike a woman at any stage, in any walk of life—but they’re not inevitable. The right nutrients, a healthy lifestyle, and targeted natural remedies can prevent or relieve the most common ailments.
Nutrients are the raw materials for hormone balance, the foundation for trouble-free living. A diet that is low in refined sugars but rich in lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, and unrefined carbohydrates is a good start, along with a healthy weight and regular physical activity. Unfortunately, today’s depleted soils and mass-produced foods are unlikely to deliver complete nutrition.
To lay a balanced foundation, these basic supplements fill gaps and help you reach an optimum state:
Multivitamin: Look for a daily dose of 50-100 mg of the main B vitamins, for efficient metabolism and prevention of brain fog; 500-1,000 mg of vitamin C to withstand stress more effectively; and a variety of minerals for overall health.
Fish Oil: Aim for 1,000-3,000 mg of fish oil daily for a stable mood, clear skin and fewer wrinkles, to reduce chronic inflammation and support the heart and overall health. Flax seed oil or DHA from algae are plant sources of healthy fats.
Vitamin D: Aim for at least 1,000 IU daily to support the immune system, strong bones, and overall optimum function.
Calcium and magnesium: Aim for equal amounts of both (see Beware the Calcium Myth, p. 44).
CoQ10: After age 40, aim for 50-100 mg daily for a healthy heart and plenty of energy.
Uncomfortable symptoms of PMS, perimenopause, and menopause all share a common cause: shifts in hormone levels. Ovulation cycles trigger monthly shifts and PMS. With perimenopause, shifts usually occur during the years approaching menopause and can cause heavy or irregular bleeding, hot flashes, mood swings, memory lapses, irritability, and sleep difficulties. Menopause, with increased risks for osteoporosis and heart disease, begins after a full year without menstrual periods.
Dramatic as they can be, symptoms can be avoided. In addition to basic supplements, targeted natural remedies can be taken as individual supplements or in formulas.
Chasteberry (Vitex): In studies of more than 3,000 women, the herb has relieved PMS symptoms. For example, a German study of more than 1,600 women, published in the Journal of Women’s Health & Gender-Based Medicine, found that chasteberry reduced PMS-related depression, cravings, bloating, and anxiety in 93 percent of women. The usual daily dose is 200-400 mg of a standardized extract.
Other Remedies: Healthy fats in fish, flax seed, borage and evening primrose oils, and black cohosh also help to minimize PMS symptoms. Vitamin B6 reduces water retention.
Pueraria Mirifica (PM): Grown in a region of Thailand with the world’s lowest breast cancer rates, PM works on estrogen receptors to balance the hormone. If levels of estrogen are too low, it intensifies its effect and if levels of estrogen are too high, it reduces its effect. Multiple studies, such as one published in Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics, show that it safely relieves hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and other symptoms; is the most potent plant-based estrogen remedy; and can be as effective as—but safer than—conventional estrogen replacement therapy.
According to Gary Gordon, MD, an integrative physician who has worked extensively with PM, the optimum daily dosage is 2 mg per kg of body weight. Divide your weight in pounds by 2.2 and then multiply that number by 2. For example: a 150-pound woman would need 136 mg of PM daily. Gordon recommends doubling that amount for the first week.
Black Cohosh: Numerous studies show that the herb relieves all types of perimenopausal symptoms. In one study, black cohosh was more effective than Prozac in relieving hot flashes. And, a combination of black cohosh and St. John’s wort was effective for depression in a study of 301 women.
In another study, published in Maturitas, black cohosh was as effective as conventional prescription estrogen, but unlike prescription estrogen, the herb doesn’t appear to raise estrogen levels in the breasts or uterus but only in the brain and vagina. Consequently, black cohosh has not been shown to increase risk for female cancers. And, it protects bones. A common dosage is 20 mg of a standardized extract, once or twice daily.
Isoflavones: Soy and red clover contain isoflavones, plant sources of estrogen. Research shows that individual responses may vary, depending upon how a woman metabolizes these ingredients.
Progesterone Cream: Low progesterone levels can cause the same types of symptoms as low estrogen levels. The most common usage is 20 mg daily but individual requirements vary. Follow label instructions.
PM: A study published in Menopause found that PM improves bone health in post-menopausal women, and other research found that it raises “good” HDL cholesterol and lowers “bad” LDL cholesterol. According to anecdotal evidence from Thailand, where PM is widely used, it may also prevent saggy breasts.
Other Remedies: Black cohosh helps to protect bones, and vitamin C supports the adrenal glands that produce some female hormones. Aim for 500-1,000 mg of vitamin C daily.
Low estrogen levels can lead to vaginal atrophy, the medical term for a wasting away of the vagina due to loss of cells. Most often, it happens after menopause. Symptoms include dryness, burning, and pain during or bleeding after intercourse, because the walls of the vagina become thin and frail. Vaginal atrophy can also contribute to incontinence and more frequent urinary tract infections, because the health of the vagina and urinary tract are related.
Vitamin D and remedies that restore estrogen balance, such as black cohosh, may improve vaginal health. In a study of 71 post-menopausal women, PM relieved vaginal dryness after 12 weeks, and after 24 weeks, it relieved pain during sex and helped to restore the lining of the vagina.
Sleep, Stress, and Mood
5-HTP: To stabilize mood and sleep better, try 50-100 mg three times daily.
Theanine: Also called l-theanine, it has a relaxing effect without causing drowsiness, and can improve sleep.
Magnesium: For better sleep, take an extra 200-400 mg before bedtime.
Cruciferous Extracts: Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts contain indole-3-carbinole (I3C), a beneficial substance that may help to reduce the risk of breast, cervical, and uterine cancers triggered by harmful effects of estrogen. In our bodies, I3C is converted into DIM (Diindolylmethane). Both forms are available in supplements.
Calcium D-Glucarate: Not the same substance as the mineral calcium, calcium d-glucarate helps eliminate toxins, especially carcinogenic forms of estrogen in environmental pollutants. It’s found in oranges, apples, grapefruit, and cruciferous vegetables, in individual supplements.
Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
Cranberry: As a juice or supplement, cranberry helps prevent UTIs by stopping harmful bacteria from attaching to the walls of the bladder and urinary tract. Rich in antioxidants, it’s also good for the heart and may fight viruses. For prevention, drink at least 3 ounces of pure cranberry juice daily or take an extract.
Probiotics: Yeast infections occur when there is a lack of friendly bacteria, or probiotics, and harmful bacteria take over. Probiotic supplements and yogurt with live cultures help prevent these infections by keeping vaginal bacteria in balance.
Other Remedies: D-mannose helps prevent bacteria from sticking to the bladder wall for UTI prevention and treatment. As a treatment for yeast infections, vaginal suppositories of tea tree oil fight harmful bacteria without destroying beneficial ones. And there are homeopathic tablets and suppositories to treat vaginal yeast infections.
Pumpkin Seed Oil: A proprietary form of pumpkin seed oil from Austria, Cucurbita pepo, calms bladder irritation and helps to strengthen bladder muscles and the urinary system. A federal agency in Germany that regulated natural remedies for many years, that country’s Commission E, approved the supplement for treatment of irritable bladder conditions. The recommended dosage is 1,000 mg of Cucurbita pepo, three to four times daily.
Thinning Hair and Wrinkles
BioSil: Also known as choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid (ch-OSA), BioSil enhances levels of collagen, keratin, and elastin for healthy hair, skin, and nails.
Collagen: Type I and III collagen and Biocell II collagen are building blocks of collagen in skin, plumping up wrinkles and sags by enhancing the skin’s underlying structure.
Beware the Calcium Myth
Calcium alone can’t keep bones healthy, and, according to Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, and author of The Magnesium Miracle, can harm you by being deposited in the wrong places, such as arteries, leading to blockage, and kidneys, where it can cause kidney stones. Vitamin D and magnesium are equally essential for calcium to be used in bones.
Dean recommends getting equal amounts of calcium and magnesium, no more than 500 mg of each in one dose. Calcium-rich dairy products and other foods with added calcium, such as orange juice, typically create a deficit of magnesium, and magnesium supplements are necessary to correct the imbalance. Loose stools indicate too much magnesium, but just short of that point is the ideal dosage.
FOR MEN ONLY
As a young man, you feel invincible. But as you get older, you start noticing changes in your body. More fat, less muscle.
Higher cholesterol levels. More fatigue. Poorer memory. And the stuff that makes you a man doesn’t work as well as it once did.
A healthy diet and exercise can help you stay fit. And so can certain supplements, which enhance some of the biochemical processes that keep you healthy.
So, where exactly do you start? Begin by taking a daily high-potency multivitamin to guard against nutritional deficiencies. Then consider individual supplements to reduce your risk of health problems and maybe even turn back the clock.
Tiny structures called mitochondria, found in your body’s cells, burn food molecules for energy. But damage to mitochondria increases with age, making them less efficient. Several nutrients are essential for normal energy production in mitochondria.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) was the basis of the 1978 Nobel Prize in chemistry, given to Peter Mitchell, PhD, for his detailed explanation of its role in energy production in mitochondria. The recommended dosage ranges from 50-200 mg a day.
L-carnitine (1,000-2,000 mg a day) helps cells burn fat for energy, and alpha-lipoic acid (100-200 mg a day) also plays key roles in energy production.
Heart disease is still the leading cause of death among men. omega-3 fats (1,000-2,000 mg a day) are true multitaskers: they reduce inflammation, thin the blood, slow the heart rate, and improve blood vessel flexibility. They also help regulate heart rhythm and reduce levels of triglyceride, a fat related to cholesterol.
To lower cholesterol, opt for beta-sitosterol (2-4 grams a day), a plant extract. The B-complex vitamins, particularly folic acid (400-800 mcg a day), lower levels of homocysteine, a blood protein that increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Magnesium (200-300 mg a day) can lower blood pressure and help prevent strokes.
Omega-3 oils (1,000-2,000 mg a day) can help preserve normal brain function inadults. Studies have found that the omega-3s can help people with depression, impulsiveness, aggressiveness, and bipolar disorder.
Supplements of docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, (300-500 mg a day), one of the key omega-3s, can help with learning and memory.
Another memory aid: L-theanine (100-200 mg a day), found in green tea. In a recent study, doctors gave a combination of L-theanine and green tea supplements to people with mild cognitive impairment, a common prelude to Alzheimer’s. The patients had significant improvements in memory and attention.
Muscle mass declines with age. Exercise can slow this deterioration, and some amino acids (protein building blocks) can boost muscle mass in seniors. Chief among them are the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)—leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Of these, leucine (3-6 grams a day) is the most important because it helps convert protein to muscle. In a European study, researchers found that leucine supplements helped increase muscle synthesis in the older men almost to the same level as that in the young men.
Research has found that other amino acid supplements can also increase muscle mass in seniors. They include beta-alanine (2,400 mg a day), l-ornithine (2 grams a day), and multi-amino acid supplements (8 grams a day) that provide a blend of eight or nine amino acids.
Night blindness, characterized by difficulty seeing in the dark or being blinded by headlights, is a classic sign of vitamin A (10,000 IU a day) deficiency.
Lutein (6-10 mg a day) and zeaxanthin (1 mg a day) form the macular pigment, which helps the eyes register tiny details. These two nutrients might also slow the progression of macular degeneration.
Astaxanthin (4-6 mg a day) might enhance visual acuity, perhaps by working in conjunction with lutein and zeaxanthin. In addition, omega-3s (1,000-2,000 mg a day) also show promise in protecting against macular degeneration.
Benign enlargement of the prostate is common in men over age 50.
Lycopene (10-30 mg a day), found in tomatoes and other foods, can slow the increase in prostate size and also lower levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA), a marker of prostate cancer risk.
Other potentially helpful supplements include two herbs, saw palmetto (200-300 mg a day) and stinging nettles (100-200 mg a day). Some research suggests that lycopene might also slow the growth of prostate cancer.
Inflammation of the prostate (prostatitis), can lead to pain during urination and intercourse. Studies have found that quercetin (1,000 mg a day) supplements can help in prostatitis. Combining quercetin with bromelain and papain further improves the odds of recovery.
L-arginine is the precursor to nitric oxide, a compound that regulates the flexibility of blood vessels. Supplemental arginine (2,000 mg a day) has been shown to improve the ability of blood vessels in the penis to dilate, resulting in firmer erections. The benefits may be enhanced by combining arginine with pycnogenol (50-100 mg a day), a natural antioxidant.
Product picks for her
RAINBOW LIGHT PMS Relief offers fast-acting support with L-theanine and soothing botanicals for hormonal balance and common PMS symptoms while supporting a positive mood and relaxation. Tablets are vegan.
SOLGAR Platinum Edition PM PhytoGen Complex features the unique botanical Thai pueraria minfica, which helps to relieve menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats, mood instability, nervousness, and occasional trouble sleeping.
VIBRANT HEALTH Cran-Max uses a patented process to concentrate active factors from whole cranberry by 34 times. Helps to prevent urinary tract infections by stopping harmful bacteria from attaching to the bladder and urinary tract.
Product picks for him
IRWIN NATURALS Only One Liquid-Gel Multi without iron: Ideal for men and post-menopausal women, this multi provides 100% of the RDA for most vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, a blend of trace-minerals, and 1,000 IU of vitamin D3.
MEGAFOOD Cardio Strength is a multi-functional formula with whole-food nutrients, botanicals and phytonutrients, including grape seed extract and pine bark, and CoQ10 to help maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
DREAMBRANDS Mdrive improves sex drive, strength, and stamina by naturally increasing testosterone levels. Formulated with clinically proven fenugreek and cordyceps extracts—no hormones or steroids.