Vitamins as a natural approach to restoring hormonal balance

When it comes to a problem, I am like a dog with a bone. I do not rest until I feel like I’ve found an answer that can calm my mind.

With this sudden onset of wacky bleeding, I have done hours and hours of research. And I think you’ve gotten it by now that I don’t trust doctors as the primary source of truth regarding my body.

My approach to hormonal imbalance is starting natural and working my way up from there. I’m focusing on vitamins, herbs, natural progesterone, diet, exercise,  and acupuncture. If this approach doesn’t work then I’ll take it back to the docs to be poked and prodded and hopped up on chemicals.

This post is going to describe the vitamins that are a part of my natural solution.

Many of my research sources mention optimal levels of certain vitamins and minerals to restore hormonal balance.

Here’s the bottom line. Most likely whatever multivitamin you are taking is too low in every compound. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) seems to recommend the minimum level to keep you from getting sick. It does NOT recommend the levels at which you will see optimal health. The sooner you understand that, the faster you can get on board the health train!

So here’s the scoop, and unforch you will not find one handily-packaged multivitamin to meet these needs. If you follow this path, you will most likely end up with a collection of vitamins to take several times a day that look like this…

It’s a shit-pile of vitamins, get over it.

The vitamins and levels to support hormonal balance in the average perimenopausal women (I focused on the levels recommended for heavy bleeding):

  • Vitamin A (as beta-carotene): 25,000 IU per day. 1 In case this level scares you, beta-carotene is water soluble so any that isn’t needed is flushed out when you pee.  2 Be sure to take this with Vitamin E.
  • Vitamin A (as Vitamin A): 5,000-10,000 IU per day. This type can build up toxic levels if more than 10,000 IUs is taken daily for a long period of time so if you eat a lot of fish and poultry you might want to keep closer to the 5,000 IU level. This type of vitamin A can be found in Cod Liver Oil and should be taken with Vitamin D. 2
  • Biotin: 100-300 mcg (micrograms) per day
  • Vitamin B6: 60–80 mg per day. 1 The B vitamins are particularly important for heavy periods for a number of reasons. First and foremost, they are needed by the liver to convert excess estrogen into weaker and less dangerous forms. Specifically, B6 is needed for the production of beneficial prostaglandins which help reduce abnormal blood clotting. Whoo hoo, go B6! 3
  • Vitamin B12: 1000 mcg per day. 2
  • Folic Acid: 700–1,000 mcg per day of folic acid. 1
  • Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols): 400 IU, twice per day. 1 Keep this level fairly low so as to not interact with Vitamin K.
  • Vitamin C complex with bioflavonoids: 1,000–5,000 mg per day. 1  Vitamin C and bioflavonoids help to strengthen the capillaries in the body, which can reduce heavy bleeding. Taken as a supplement, vitamin C has also produced excellent results for many women with heavy periods. One study showed that taking only 200mg of vitamin C with bioflavonoids, three times daily, reduced bleeding in 87 percent of the women tested. 3 The good news is that even if you take fairly high levels of Vitamin C like 10,000 mg daily, you will pee out the parts you don’t need. 2 Water soluble vitamins are the bomb.
  • Vitamin D: 1000-5,000 IU daily. This stuff is magical and if you haven’t heard about it lately you must be living under a rock. While you can exist on fairly low levels, unless you are getting a lot of non-sunscreened sun a day, you are probably not getting enough Vitamin D. Since Vitamin D is fat soluble, you don’t want to take too much as excess levels can be toxic. It can be a good idea to get your vitamin D levels tested to see where you are.
  • Vitamin K: According to the website, Alternative Doctor, vitamin K is best known for its role in helping blood clot properly and in preventing excessive bleeding. Vitamin K can also be used to stop heavy menstrual bleeding. Organic Facts states that vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that can be found in the intestine. The recommended daily dose of vitamin K is 65 mcg although some web site recommend up to 1000 mcg to control heavy bleeding. 4
  • Choline: 50-100 mg 2  Choline and the following Bs are typically included in any multivitamin so I thought I would include the recommended levels here.
  • Inositol: 150-300 mg 2
  • Pantothetic acid (B5) 50-100 mg
  • Pyridoxine (B2): 20-50 mg
  • Thiamine (B1): 25-50 mg
  • Iron: In many women with heavy bleeding, the primary symptom is fatigue from iron deficiency anemia. Get your blood count checked, and if it’s low take 15 mg or more of iron per day.  1 Worried about constipation, check the type of iron you take. I take three tablets daily of Nature Made iron; it doesn’t block me up or make me sick to my stomach.
  • Calcium: 1,500 mg daily. You already know that milk is a poor source of calcium and there is some evidence that dairy products can mess with yout hormones. So just take the pills people.
  • Magnesium: 5-20 mg daily.

1  As recommended on her website by Dr. Christiane Northrup

2 Dr. John R. Lee, “What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About: Premenopause”

3 As recommended on her website by Dr. Marilyn Glenville

4 Read more on LiveStong

So now that you are totally overwhelmed, let’s sum it all up. Most of the vitamins can be obtained through food if you are eating a whole food diet (NOprocessed foods) focusing on veggies primarily, clean proteins (organic, grass-fed meats, wild fish) and organic fruits and nuts. But let’s be real, I know only one person who is actually following a diet like this. The rest of us typically live off of things like Starbucks mochas, flavored yogurts, teddy grahams, chicken fingers and macaroni and cheese with a tiny side of broccoli. Right?

Supplements can help. You need to check the levels shown on the packages and compare them to what you think you might need. Don’t assume that taking the RDA of any vitamin is enough.

That’s enough vita-preaching for now. Time for some cheesy poofs!

 

 

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Adventures in bleeding: How to keep your uterus from exploding

People, brace yourselves. This blog is not for the squeamish. You see, it’s about my lady parts. You know, my Baby Bed… My lady junk. My STUFF. If you are a man and the thought of blood and vaginal anything scares you, you should leave now. We’ll give you a minute. Go on now, git.

It’s all rather embarrassing. And that’s part of the problem. As women, we do not talk about this stuff. We find it gross or unladylike or just plain weird to talk to each other about it. Unforch, what happens is that we are all suffering similarly but in silence. And double-unforch, together we might be able to come up with better information and healthier solutions than those being offered by the medical establishment today.

Don’t get me wrong. I love a good doctor. Doctors save lives. They are who you want in your corner when your life is threatened. But are they the best resource for figuring out the mysteries of your body? Are they the best healers? Doctors today have approximately 10 minutes to get your story and whip out a prognosis and treatment plan. Can we really expect them to get it right? I don’t think so. As patients, we are being treated by the numbers: What is most likely to be the cause, how most women respond to certain treatments, the results of studies conducted on college co-eds 20 years ago, and of course whatever is being sold by the drug companies.

Let me whip out a frightening fact for you: According to the CDC, women in the age group of 40 – 44 have the highest rate of hysterectomy. This age group is typically still years and years away from menopause. So why are so many women who should be feeling like 40 is the new 30 are instead having their lady parts removed? Two words: HORMONAL IMBALANCE.

It’s time for us to get our shit together ladies. Seriously. Unless you like being a passive passenger on this trip we call life, we need to start getting involved in our hormonal health.

Here’s my story and how I got to this place. This year has sucked big donkey balls for me. In April, I was in a rollover car accident that brought on a complete mental breakdown. In September, there was a tragic accident involving my favorite soul-mate dog and beloved brother and nephew which brought on mental breakdown #2. Finally, a big project at work brought on stress and more stress and of course I’m still aging… and viola! My hormones are completely f-ed up.

My problem is blood.

I am a walking Stephen King novel. I can bleed like nobody’s business. They should give me some kind of tiara for this shit. The best part is how unpredictable it is. Last week, on the busiest day of my work year  I am minding my own business, just sitting there blowing up balloons for this fair that I organize, when BAM! Spontaneous blood flood. I am super grateful for black skinny jeans because they soaked it up well so I didn’t drip the 200 yards to the bathroom and the blood didn’t show. The flow had made it almost down to my knees. I cleaned up as best I could in the restroom but obviously had to go home immediately for a shower and clothing change. I made it back to work with only minutes to spare before the fair was scheduled to start.

I wonder if Carrie had a hormonal imbalance too?

I’ve seen a doctor. And my sweet little 29 year old doc put me on birth control pills. Lucky for me I already had a clue that my issue was estrogen related (too much of it) so I asked for the progesterone only pill. She would’ve put me on the combo pill, however, which would have made the estrogen dominance even worse for sure. Since starting the pill, however, I’ve been spotting and have had a 13 day period. So I did some more research and discovered that since the progesterone only pill isn’t ACTUALLY progesterone (it’s progestin which is a chemical compound sort-of like progesterone) this kind of spotting and period changes are NORMAL. Yeah right.

Those little extra chemical thingies off the side are going to fuck you up.

I do not accept that. I do not accept that this is the best plan for me. Fuck that. (Sorry for the language but if you’ve read my blog before you know I have a potty mouth.)

So I started researching. I’ve spent every spare moment reading and researching. According to some great web sites and several informative books there are better ways to treat my hormonal imbalance. I also did some research on the best sources for natural progesterone and how to administer it and am now off of the pills and onto a bio-identical progesterone cream.

I won’t know for another few weeks if my plan is working. At least I am hopeful. And I’m talking about it. We need to talk about it. I know two women in my circle of acquaintances who have had hysterectomies this month. And while it is a solution, it brings with it instance menopause and hormonal imbalances of a different kind. I know of another friend with breast fibroids (also due to estrogen dominance) and more friends with bleeding problems. I am not a statistical corner case. This is happening to MOST OF US. And we owe it to each other to learn about it and talk about it.

So here’s my recommended reading list to get you started:

  • Dr. John R. Lee’s Hormone Balance Made Simple – Short and sweet, contains a list of symptoms and the hormonal causes. Great reference for personalizing hormonal treatments just for you.
  • What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause – Premenopause is the phase before perimenopause and spans the ages 30-50, generally. This book contains a ton of info about the different conditions women start to experience during this time of life and what to do about them.
  • The Perimenopause Blog – A great site put together by a woman named Magnolia Miller. She has experienced most of this first hand and also holds a professional certification as a healthcare consumer advocate in women’s health, and is currently conducting graduate research in the field of medical anthropology with a focus on women’s health issues in perimenopause, menopause & post menopause issues.
  • Taking Charge of Your Fertility – The definitive guide to learning about your cycle, the hormones involved, and how to read your own body. I used the knowledge I learned in this book as birth control for 10+ years so I know it works. It’s a great reference for finding out if you are ovulating, not-ovulating, or generally finding out what your lady parts are doing.

For my tech-savvy friends, I also recommend getting an app to track your cycles. I use an app that tracks my cycles, the days, my bleeding, as well as my basal body temperatures. There are tons of them in the App Store, so shop around and pick the one that you’re most comfortable with.

I’ll post more later as I discover how my plan is working. For today, I am very happy I have stopped bleeding.

I will also write a post soon about what I learned about nutrient and vitamin levels and how that contributes to our hormones. So much good information is out there. Educate yourself, m’ladies!