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#9: Supportive Supplements

podcast Sep 25, 2021

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Amanda: Hey, this is Amanda, women’s health dietitian.
Emily: And I’m Emily, nutritional therapy practitioner.
Amanda: And this is the Are You Menstrual? podcast where we help you navigate the confusing world of women’s hormones and teach you how to have healthy periods.
Emily: Each week we will be diving into a different topic on women’s health and sharing our perspective using nutrition, female physiology, and metabolic health.
Amanda: Our goal is to help you wade through conflicting health information and empower you on your healing journey.
Emily: We hope you enjoy it. 

Amanda: In our last episode, we shed some light on popular supplements that we recommend avoiding, we choose to avoid personally, and why. And now we want to dig more into supplements that we do really enjoy whether that's a supplement form or a food form. We're gonna kind of go through both today. And I know we specifically covered things like iron, zinc, vitamin D, that kind of stuff. Make sure you listen to that episode if you haven't yet, I think it's a really important one. And not that we don't demonize all supplements. But we think it's important to understand why you're taking something and how it's helping you or could be creating more harm in the body.

And today we're going to focus more on okay, how can we get the main nutrients that we need and maybe are harder to get from food. Food first is definitely our approach, but there's certain nutrients that maybe you don't like eating that food…we're going to talk about liver. Or maybe it's something like magnesium, very difficult to get from food. So we're going to kind of go through what are our kind of top supplements/food sources of supplements that we really like and we find are foundational for ourselves and the women that we work with. And again, please do your own research. Talk with your doctor or dietitian before you stop or start anything just like last episode, right? We are nutrition professionals, but we are not your nutrition professional. And this podcast is really for informational purposes only. The goal is to make you think, get you looking things up, starting to do your own kind of research process, and decide what's best for you.

Emily: Okay, so the first one we're going to start with is one that y'all are going to be so tired of hearing after this season of this podcast, because we've talked about it so many times. But it's actually a whole food. It's not what you think of as a typical supplement. But that's beef liver. Like I said, we've talked about this in our most nourishing foods and mineral-rich foods. But if you are someone who maybe does not want to eat beef liver, because as Amanda said food first…we really believe that eating these foods are going to be your best bet. But beef liver is also available as a supplement and it's a whole food supplement. So there's nothing synthetic, there's nothing unnatural about getting like a supplement with desiccated beef liver, but we call it nature's multivitamin because of how rich it is in so many minerals. So again, you've got your B vitamins, your copper, selenium, iron, etc. The list goes on and on…vitamin A…And they all are in the perfect amounts to work optimally in the body. So that is why we love beef liver. I personally have not been so brave to buy raw beef liver and cook it or eat it like that. I'm just not there yet. I…my hope is to get there one day. But I've done a couple things. So in the past from my local farmer, I've bought what's known as primal ground beef, which has organ meats including beef liver, inside a ground beef, and I've cooked that up in certain recipes. Can't taste it at all. And I know I'm getting a little bit of that beef liver inside my ground beef. So that's one way to do it. But I did also start taking, I believe it's the Ancestral Supplements beef liver when I started working with Amanda, and that has been amazing for me. I don't take a multivitamin. I don't take anything like that has those synthetic ingredients. I just take the beef liver as my multivitamin. But I know Amanda, you do it a little differently. So how do you take your beef liver? 

Amanda: So I do it a couple of ways because I, I do think you know there's differences in cooked beef liver and raw, right? Because one of them is gonna be cooked, you can miss out on certain nutrients. The other one is going to be raw so certain nutrients are going to be more bioavailable. There's benefits to both, so I like to do a mix of both. And I will make…cook duck liver because I don't…beef liver is rough you guys. If you haven't, if you've had beef liver then you know. I find beef liver to be very difficult to eat. I didn't grow up eating it. I remember my dad…he loves liver and onions. Like my mom would make liver and onions for him like every once in a while as like a treat, and I was like this is the grossest thing ever. It's one of those things where it's, like, my husband did grow up eating it, he can eat it fine. Not a big deal. So I get duck liver, it's a lot more mild tasting. And I always soak it in milk first. You could also use a lemon or some…you just need some sort of like acid, right? So milk works really well. It also reduces the iron content in the liver, and if you listen to last week's episode on iron, like, we get plenty of iron if you eat animal foods in your diet. Not that beef liver has a ton of iron, it really doesn't. People always ask me that. What about the iron content? It does, it really doesn't have that much. So I soak it in milk and then I cook it up really, just like not too much—don't want to overcook it. And then I put it in my food processor with a ton of herbs, like, an obnoxious amount of herbs—I love using thyme—and then cream cheese...

Emily: Oh interesting. 

Amanda: Yes, cream cheese. And think it's like a quarter cup of heavy cream.

Emily: Oh my gosh. 

Amanda: …and like salt, garlic, all that kind of stuff. So it's like, Is it liver at that point? Probably not. But I can eat it on like sourdough crackers or on a piece of sourdough. And it's like I enjoy it. And it doesn't taste like liver. It's crazy. So that's like how I'll do cooked duck liver pate. And I get my duck liver from White Oak Pastures. They're, I think they're in Virginia. And you can get it…they have meat you can buy online that's frozen. I just moved so I'm still kind of getting a grasp on like my best, like, local meat opportunities. But I'm in North Carolina, so it's really not that far. I used to still get it from there when I was in Texas. So yeah, White Oak Pastures has it and, or I'll, I buy that one and I chop it up into like small pieces and freeze it and swallow those like capsules. I've been doing that for like the last few months to see if I notice a difference between taking the frozen beef liver capsules and, or like Ancestral Supplements or Paleovalley Organ Complex or something like that. And I haven't noticed a significant difference. My digestion shifted a little bit in the beginning, and I did notice a bit more energy. It's just one of those things where it's, like, it's a different form, right. You're gonna lose some nutrients during that freeze drying process making the Ancestral Supplements or whatever brand it is…beef liver supplement. Again, I think it's good to just get a mix. So I'll like eat some via pate, I'll take the frozen ones, or I'll take the capsules. But the frozen you can put in smoothies and you can't taste it. And so that's like another or you can do that with the capsules. I don't know how many capsules you could get in there before you would taste it though. Have you experimented with that?

Emily: So I have not but I do remember someone in our membership saying that that's what they did. And I don't remember how many she put in there. Maybe it was up to three? 

Amanda: I think she put like three or four. We can ask her. 

Emily: Yeah, because she would just empty the capsules right into her smoothie, and she said she couldn't taste them. Personally, I'm just like…I'd rather just swallow the whole capsule. 

Amanda: But if you know that it's in there, you'll…

Emily: Yeah. It doesn't mix with my fruit. But no, I feel like you have to play with it. And any way that you can tolerate it or even dare I say enjoy it, because some people do, I think that's the best way. Because again, what is that the vitamin P pleasure. If you're someone who enjoys eating liver…it might be more of a traditional thing if you're someone that grew up with that, that's just nostalgic for you. It's something that your parents made you…that's the best case scenario, right? Like you enjoy eating it, it's a part of your diet. But if it's not, like me—I never grew up eating beef liver unfortunately—I don't think there's anything wrong with, you know, adding a capsule supplement to your routine just to get those crucial vitamins in. Especially when you think about, you know, in contrast to a synthetic multivitamin, it's, it's so much more beneficial. So there's tons of ways to do it. I'm impressed with you, Amanda, about the frozen one, the raw frozen because I just…I don't know if I could just swallow that.

Amanda: You can't taste it at all. You can't even smell it, because it's frozen. 

Emily: That's fair.

Amanda: But I have…there are some people that they freeze them and then they let them thaw out and then swallow them and chase it with juice. And I'm like good for you guys. But it just, like, it's not going to happen. But yeah, so that…there's so many different ways to do it. I would also say, like, we keep saying beef liver, because it's got great copper content, you know. Which if you listened to our previous podcast episodes, you know copper is really important for our metabolism. Really, really important mineral, but it requires vitamin A, and that's what, that why the beef liver is just so magical because it's got a ton of copper, it's got a lot of vitamin A. So it's really one of the perfect things to use.

If you feel like you have maybe, you listened to our iron episode, and you were like, you know, I think my iron is out of balance. Maybe you've seen high iron in your bloodwork or on your hair test. That's where the beef liver really comes in. There are other types of liver, like duck liver, very comparable nutrient-wise it still has a good amount of copper and it's got a ton of vitamin A. If you can't do duck liver, maybe you can't find it near you…chicken liver is also a great option. That one is the most mild tasting, right? Like, I think that's why duck liver is so mild, it's similar to chicken. It doesn't have quite as much copper, but it does have a lot of vitamin A. 

But I mean, there's other foods that are high in copper, too. Maybe you're, like, I definitely need more copper. So I'm going to prioritize shellfish, seafood, you know, white fish, that sort of thing that…that's going to give you more copper. Maybe you're going to do cacao, you know, chlorophyll, those things are going to be great sources of copper as well. I just think that the beef liver, duck liver…it's easy. It's all in one, right. And a lot of us are looking for more convenience. And if you can't do any of those, and you want a different option, like, but you still need a supplement, like, I've never found like a chicken liver or duck liver supplement. You could do Oysterzinc, it's like an oyster supplement. Same idea as the liver one, it's just dehydrated in capsules. There's a brand called Smidge that has an Oysterzinc supplement and it's, it's got a ton of copper, zinc, B12, selenium, iodine…It does have a good amount of iodine so make sure that that's appropriate for you—talk with your doctor. But it doesn't really have lots of vitamin A. But you could add in some cod liver oil, which we didn't plan on talking about today because it's not one that we think everyone needs to take. But if you're someone that can't do the liver, the types of liver that we mentioned, and you, you need a capsule, you could do Oysterzinc and then you could consider some small amount of cod liver oil to get your vitamin A…or dairy, you know, egg yolks. All those things are gonna be great vitamin A sources.

I know we're gonna get this question because I get it on Instagram all the time. We have not found a kosher beef liver supplement, unfortunately. So that's another one where a lot of my clients that are kosher, they do the Oysterzinc and the cod liver oil. Or they'll just prioritize other types of liver in their diet. 

Emily: Okay, I'm going to be like a little bit of a devil's advocate here. And I'm going to ask you a question. So, and this goes for both pregnant and non-pregnant woman, Amanda, but I am pregnant. And you know, I've read the studies on vitamin A, and even though I know that they use synthetic vitamin A and all of that, how much liver should I be prioritizing, either pregnant or not pregnant? Is there an upper limit?

Amanda: So technically, there is an upper limit for vitamin A, because it's a fat-soluble vitamin. So it's a little less than four…about four ounces a week would meet like the upper limit for vitamin A. The cool thing is there's lab testing and so readily available for us now. So whenever we have clients that are pregnant, and they're worried or maybe they're just, you know, worried about getting too much vitamin A in general, we'll have them get their retinol tested. And it's a very simple blood test. You can go on places like Request a Test and you can order your own blood tests of just retinol if you want. You can ask your doctor to test it. Don't say vitamin A, because they'll test beta carotene and that's not going to help you. So make sure you ask them for retinol. And then that way you can know, like, what…are my levels appropriate? Do I have high retinol? That's like a sign of inflammation. And then you might want to be careful with your vitamin A intake.

But we do get that question a lot where people are really worried about vitamin A, but the majority of the women that we see are very deficient, especially when they're pregnant. I've seen so many women in third trimester with very depleted vitamin A and then their hemoglobin are way lower than they should be. Like, obviously, it's going to be lower during that time. But if they want to do a home birth, then they can, right, because…in a lot of states, at least…because their hemoglobin has to be a certain level. And so that's when it's like, okay, we really need to prioritize that whole food form of vitamin A.

Emily: I actually am entering my third trimester this week, and I cannot wait to check my retinol levels. I have not checked those in probably years so I have no idea. But I definitely have a suspicion that my retinol is low just because of all the things I was on pre-having kids that depleted my vitamin A levels. So, super interesting. And I think with everyone to you know what, regardless of your levels, or what you're going through, or if you're pregnant, not pregnant, I think if you are going to supplement with beef liver, just make sure you start really slow. I would say on the bottle, it always has I think like up to six capsules a day, which is what I've worked my way up to over time. But I would just start with one or two per day, see how you feel? For a lot of people, it can have some stimulating effects, and some people can't even tolerate it after, you know, experimenting around with it for a while. So I would say just start with one. How do you feel and if you're, you feel great, you don't really notice a huge difference. That's when you can start titrating up.

Amanda: Yeah, like, especially if you're someone that has maybe…you've gone through our Master Your Minerals course or you've gotten a hair test done. If you have very low mineral levels overall, then you want to make sure that you go slowly. Or if you're a fast 4, those people tend to be a lot more sensitive. So it's, it's easy to see on a supplement like, oh, six capsules, okay, I'm just gonna start with six. And then you could feel like a…We have a lot of clients, if they take too much too fast, they feel like super stimulated, right. Almost like stressed out, like, they're buzzing, they have difficulty sleeping. It's very nutrient-dense—that's why we love it, right. But if you are someone that's coming from a depleted place and you're adding in all those minerals, all those different reactions are getting turned on, right, and your body might not quite be ready for that. So always go slow, even if you're, especially if you're adding it to like food and stuff too. And then just see how your body responds.

Emily: Right, and just, you know, FYI, we usually save beef liver until phase two of the healing protocol, when, whenever you go through our Master Your Minerals course you'll see that, so it's not the first thing we start with. And that just goes to show that it's super powerful. And like Amanda said, you want to kind of get your minerals in a good place before you start adding all these super nutrient- and mineral-dense supplements, or foods, I guess.

Okay, so that covers beef liver, we're gonna go to the next one. And again, super popular one, but we're going to talk about magnesium. So we talked a lot about magnesium in relation to stress, because it is the first mineral that we burn through when we are stressed. And when you combine everything that we kind of experience in today's modern age, with all the stressors that we have going on, and the fact that our soils are pretty much depleted of magnesium, you'll actually find that most of us are deficient in this important mineral. So unfortunately, there's not a ton of magnesium that you can get from foods. There are magnesium rich foods, relatively, but me and Amanda are both fans of adding extra where we can just to make sure that we're supporting our stress response. So how do we do that? So there are several ways, and one of my favorite ways is topically—so that can either be through taking Epsom salt baths, or foot baths, or using a magnesium oil spray or lotion. So the brand is called the Ancient Minerals. They have a really good Epsom salt or a spray that you can just do like 6-15 sprays  like once or twice a day on your arms and legs or your torso and that gets a good dose in.

Amanda: You can put on the bottoms of your feet too, if you want. A lot of people do that if they notice they have like a burning sensation. I will say it's probably 50/50, like half of our clients can do the spray no issues and then the other half it burns no matter what. Right. So if it burns on their skin, I'm usually like try the bottoms of your feet for a while, let your body adjust. Ancient Minerals does make an aloe vera version of it. So it's a little bit calmer. But I've had people that still cannot do that one. The lotion has the least amount of magnesium. It's like 40 milligrams in one pump of lotion. And that I found works if you do the spray, and it's like burning your legs off I would try the lotion. It's less magnesium, but it's not going to be so irritating. And if you're using, you know, you'll probably use like two pumps of the lotion that's still 80 milligrams of magnesium. 

Emily: Yeah, that's I'm definitely someone who it's a little bit it's not necessarily a burning sensation for me. So I use the regular oil, like the regular spray. And it's not terrible. It's just I have made the mistake of using it after shaving, which is a huge no-no, do not do that because it will burn. For me it's more itchy. So for a while I kind of after, right after I spray it, especially if it's the first time I've used it in a while I do notice that my, you know, my arms and my legs kind of itchy. But it only lasts for about five minutes and then it'll subside. So that's a good option for people that are just like, you know what, I'm, I don't want to take a lot of pills. Like that's not for me. I just want something to help support my magnesium levels. Do that or do the Epsom salt bath. It's so easy. It's relaxing, it can become a regular part of your routine. It's nice to have options when maybe pill popping is not your thing.

Amanda: Yeah, and it's, I think too, like, we even recommend starting with topical inside of our course, like phase one. We're like start with topical magnesium. Let your body get used to it. It's not as high of a dose right? But it's, it's gonna let you kind of lean into that if you have, if you're an athlete, if you train a lot, it's really helpful to use topically on your muscles or if you have any pain. I've actually had clients use it for cramps, like, they spray on their lower abdomen when they have period cramps. So I think the topical is nice to have and it's a good one to start with. And then if you're wanting to do more of an oral supplement route, that's when you need to experiment to find out which magnesium is going to work best for you. 

There are so many different magnesium supplements out there. And there's a lot of different thoughts on supplementing with magnesium. We have found that we have like really three main magnesiums that we like and work for people. It's just finding the one that you tolerate the best is key, and it's super individual. So like magnesium malate, for example, it's a great one. We notice that for some people, it can give them more energy. And that's technically what it's known for. But it doesn't for everyone. Like, we have some people that take it before bed, and they're fine. So magnesium malate can be more energizing. Magnesium glycinate, that one tends to be more relaxing, it's very easy to digest, it's well absorbed. I do have found that for some people, the malate…it tends to cause looser stools at higher amounts. Again, not for everyone. So that's why you want to experiment. And then the last one that we really like that, this one's actually liquid form…which some people just don't do well with taking pills, they don't like it, they forget, they want to be able to add something to like a smoothie, or even to an adrenal cocktail. And so they'll do magnesium bicarbonate, and this is the liquid one. Mitigate Stress is a great brand that we're going to link in the show notes. It's also helpful for acid reflux. Like, if you get reflux at night, we have a lot of like pregnant clients later on in that, like, end of second beginning of third trimester, you know, things are moving around pretty much no matter what you do, you're having some reflux…the magnesium bicarbonate can be really helpful for that.

And you can make your own if you want, like you could get a magnesium hydroxide powder, and then mix that with carbonated water. Or like I make it in a Soda Stream. I've been doing this stuff for a really long time. So of course, like I do a lot of weird stuff. I do, I try lots of different things. You don't have to take in magnesium all those different ways. I do, like, I do a topical, I like to do Epsom salt baths. Or I'll use the lotion. I don't do both, I'll do, like, one or the other each day. And then I do take a pill form. I like to take magnesium glycinate before bed because it does relax me and helps me sleep. Like during the day, I'll just take, I'll drink magnesium bicarbonate. So I find that, like, in some people, like, if you're trying to take a lot more magnesium, maybe your needs are much higher. Like you have a very high magnesium burn rate, you have lots of stress, or you're super depleted, you might need a lot more. And sometimes when you try to take a ton of one certain kind, it can cause GI issues. So getting it a few different ways can minimize that. But you don't have to do all those ways.

Emily: I'm kind of the same as you, though, I, I started taking just one thing two or three times a day. But now I mix it up just because I know how they affect me. And again, it's all personal experimentation. But I'm the same. I do magnesium malate in the morning to energize me. Magnesium glycinate in the evening to relax me. And then if I'm experiencing some heartburn, you know, like pregnant women do, I'll do a shot of the bicarbonate to help with that. And then Epsom salt baths are just kind of intermittent. Whenever I take a bath, I'll just throw some salts in there. It's real easy, not something I think a lot about. So again, there's just…any type of way. It's kind of with the beef liver—everything is very personalized. You can make it work for your lifestyle and your needs.

But we do want to say one thing about magnesium supplementation I actually am new to learning. I used to think that oh, magnesium, everyone loves magnesium. It's like the miracle pill or supplement, everyone should take it. And while in some respects this is true, and it is beneficial for most people, I would say that it's really helpful to know your mineral levels before you just start heaping on the magnesium. Because you really want your sodium and potassium levels to be in a good place before you start going crazy with magnesium. And this is because magnesium can actually push sodium and potassium down. And if you're already low on those, that's when you can start having symptoms from maybe too much magnesium. So we don't ever supplement with sodium and potassium, we do, we get those in mineral-rich foods. And if you want a refresher, go back and listen to Episode Seven where we talk about how best to support sodium and potassium with foods. But also if you do you end up doing the HTMA and the Master Your Minerals course, you'll learn a lot about your own sodium and potassium levels that will kind of give you better insight into magnesium supplementation. 

Amanda: And some people know this but, like, maybe you've taken magnesium and you're like, actually hasn't really helped, then that could be—why it could be because your sodium and potassium are depleted. So we're always talking about adrenal cocktails…that's really like the best way. And then of course certain foods that are high in potassium, like the starchy carbs, stuff like that, fruit, mixing that with sea salt—that's all going to help support those levels. So we recommend doing that first. And then adding in magnesium once you've already been doing that for at least like a month, and then you'll tolerate it better, right? You typically, you're not going to have all those negative side effects. Usually we don't feel good or we get that crazy buzz or we don't sleep as well or feel manic or something with a supplement, because we're going too quickly. And it's not even always on purpose, right? Sometimes we're just going by the label, like, we feel like we're actually following instructions for once. But everyone's very different. So go slow, we usually recommend starting with like one or two hundred milligrams of magnesium at first, whether that's like topically, which is a lot, you know, that'd be two pumps of lotion. I think it would be like six sprays. Six of the sprays, and I don't even know about the, the bath salts. 

Emily: Yeah, I'm not sure about that. I honestly don't even, I just pour a cup of bath salts in.

Amanda: I put like two or three cups, and that's a little you know…what, and the Ancient Minerals one on the bag I was reading, I'll link that, that's my favorite one. I'll link it in the show notes. But it's like, I think they said to put like, the whole bag in there. It's like an eight pound bag. I was like, I'm not spending $20 on a bath. Yeah, I'll put three cups in. And then it basically last me for like five or six baths. But yeah, it just was, it was kind of insane. I don't know how many milligrams are in like one bath. But the topical, you don't have to worry about as much. It’s the oral supplementation, that's what can really throw off your sodium and potassium if you're taking too much too fast.

And if you want to avoid the digestive issues, you know, like sometimes people get loose stools from too much magnesium too quickly, even though they're like, I know I need this, my levels are depleted. So you just need to slow down. Ideally, eventually you're going to work up to close to five times your body weight in milligrams. So if you're someone, I'm just going to use 150 pounds for an example, because it's easy math, then you would want to get up to about 750 milligrams throughout the day. And again, sometimes people even need more than that. You, you really want to test and not guess. The hair test is a great way. You can also get your magnesium RBC tested, and you want that level to be about 6.5. So that's typically what we recommend.

And I know people are gonna ask, what about Natural Calm? Natural Calm, it can calm you, but it's magnesium citrate—magnesium citrate is not well-absorbed. So while it can help you have a bowel movement, it can help you feel calm, it's not going to necessarily improve your magnesium status in your body. So we have some clients that like to use that if they're traveling, and maybe they get anxious, or it messes with their bowel movements, or it just helps them sleep. And we're like, that's fine. But we wouldn't necessarily count that towards your daily kind of intake for magnesium. So I would say if you're, like, I want to start with food first before I even do topical…cacao, getting like a nice raw cacao powder, cooked leafy greens, bone broth, which you can add leafy greens to and get even more magnesium. And then grass-fed dairy is also going to have some and then avocado. So those are going to be like your highest amount that you can get from food. We don't know how much is really in those foods, you know, because the quality of our soil and everything. But if you're not already eating those, that's like where we would start. 

Emily: This is why I would indulge in like a dark chocolate bar every night. I'm getting my magnesium in. But yeah, you just got to play around with it, like Amanda said, and just try to get those foods in because those foods also have a lot of other things going for them too. It's not just magnesium, so you can't go wrong.

But okay, we're gonna move on to vitamin E next. I feel like vitamin E is super underrated in the mainstream health and wellness sphere. We don't talk about it a lot. I didn't really know a ton about it before I started working with Amanda. But now I'm a huge fan. So vitamin E acts similarly to progesterone in the body—it reduces stress and opposes estrogen and androgens, which is super fascinating to me. So if you're someone that is low on progesterone or maybe has some estrogen dominant symptoms, this can be incredibly helpful. But it also acts as a powerful antioxidant. And it protects the body from inflammation and oxidation. So something I learned about vitamin E was that it combats the effects of PUFAS, or polyunsaturated fats, in the diet. So for example, if you are someone who has not totally gotten away from eating things like, you know, fried foods every once in a while, going out to restaurants—which I'll be the first to admit I love going out to a good restaurant. We're foodies, me and my husband, so we love trying new foods and new restaurants and things in our local town. So I just make sure when I'm eating out that I really try to prioritize more vitamin E, because I know that most restaurants are going to be cooking with those inflammatory PUFAs, right? So the vitamin E actually helps to protect your body against the oxidation that can be caused by those PUFAs in the diet. But not only that, it actually also increases blood flow in the luteal phase. So if you're someone with a short luteal phase, this can help lengthen it. And then lastly, if you struggle with headaches, migraines, or period symptoms like period pain, it can be very helpful for those symptoms. So taking maybe a little bit more during your period or when you feel a headache coming on. I've heard, I don't really get headaches, but I've heard from people that suffer with severe headaches or migraines that if they feel a headache coming on and they take extra vitamin E, it can nip it in the bud really fast. Same with period pain, because it is anti-inflammatory. So it does help with kind of an array of those inflammatory symptoms during your period. But Amanda, can you touch more on what kind of vitamin E we need to be looking for, because there's different ones. 

Amanda: So when it comes to a vitamin E supplement, we want to be looking for something that is full spectrum. And that means it has a mix of alpha tocopherols and then mixed tocopherols. And then that what that's going to do is it's going to give us that full spectrum of different types of vitamin E. A lot of vitamin E supplements that I see are just alpha, and then you just, it's, you're not going to get the same like anti-inflammatory protection that we would from a mixed version. And with vitamin E, we will say, like, this is probably not the one, it's probably not the supplement you want to start with, right. You want to work on a lot of other things first. It is really helpful for women with PCOS for, with especially, like, if they have high androgens, low progesterone—it's been researched. And I don't know why this is not like more well-known. But it's been researched to help women with PCOS conceive in other countries. So I haven't seen it within the US, but I've seen it in other countries. And it's because of how it lengthens out that luteal phase. So finding a high quality supplement, most of them are going to be one capsule 400 IUs of vitamin E. I wouldn't go much above that when you're starting. And some people can even have like a detox reaction to vitamin E. So because it is, it's opposing estrogen, right, and it's acting similarly to progesterone. So you could get like an estrogen dumping almost happening when you start taking it. So say like, you take it, you start breaking out, maybe your periods get worse…I would slow down on taking it and give yourself more time to focus on food, reducing stress, getting adrenal cocktails in, magnesium, all that kind of stuff first and then add it in. It could also just because you're taking too much. I see some people that are taking like 2000 IUs a day because they're worried about their history of eating a lot of PUFAs in the past. Or maybe they've actually tested their vitamin E levels and they're very deficient. It's, like, you still want to raise those slowly.

And then with vitamin E, you also want to think about what is it working with? Right? What other nutrients? It does need vitamin C and selenium. So I always wonder for the people that get the negative reaction, like, what are their vitamin C and selenium levels like in the body? Are they getting enough whole food vitamin C? Typically if you're starting with things like beef liver and the adrenal cocktails, you're gonna cover those bases. That's why we say, like, start with those, but everyone's gonna react a little differently to vitamin E. And if you don't have the best reaction, then I would just say, okay, let me try to focus on food forms of this first. And a lot of that, like, the ones that we recommend are going to be, like, tropical fruits, avocado, those are going to be like the most easily absorbed and digested forms of vitamin E. Nuts and seeds do have it, but remember, those are harder for us to break down. So prioritizing those vitamin C rich foods as well, if you are taking vitamin E, or if you're going to experiment with it, that's going to help your body utilize it a lot better.

Emily: And we are going to talk about vitamin C next—whole food vitamin C, not ascorbic acid, which we covered in our last episode. But I'm noticing a recurrent theme in this episode and probably our previous ones as well…that really nothing is isolated. And everything relies on everything else to utilize properly in the body, which is so funny. This is why we are all about food first, because food has the appropriate ratios of what you need to work and it's in perfect balance. This is Mother Nature at work. So just something again to keep in the back of your mind. If you, if you're getting confused, like, oh my gosh, I need this in order for this to work and I need that in order for that to be in balance. Yes, it seems complicated, but it's complicated because we're talking about supplementation. It's not complicated when you look at it through a foods first lens. So just keep that in mind.

But going back to whole food vitamin C, as Amanda said, you do need vitamin C to use vitamin E in the body. And it's also important for using copper, which I believe is something we talked about in the copper and iron episode. But it's tyrosinase is what's in whole food vitamin C that provides copper but also helps us use it in the body. And this is actually why people who struggle with both high and low copper—so whether you have high levels or low levels of copper on an HTMA—vitamin C is super helpful for those people. It also is really important for the communication between our brain and our glands. So like our thyroid gland, our adrenal glands… because our adrenal glands secrete vitamin C in response to stress, but they also require vitamin C in order to stay healthy and to make adrenal hormones, especially cortisol. It also, vitamin C also works with copper to signal the brain to make thyroid hormone. So as you can see, you need vitamin C for all these different reactions to take place in the body, which are all important for hormone health.

Amanda: Yeah, and I think that's one thing where we don't even realize how important some of these nutrients are. Like, how cool is vitamin C, right? I think what bums me out about it is that a lot of people know how important it is. And they're like, yeah, I'm taking vitamin C, and then I'm, like, look at the label…and it's ascorbic acid. So I think we know, you know, we're always recommended, like vitamin C is so important. It's important for our immune system health, skin health, you know, it helps, it's really important for building up collagen and stuff in the skin. So we kind of grasp that, it's just we're taking the wrong kind, and we don't realize that that could be depleting our copper and then leading to, you know, adrenal insufficiencies and things like that. So when we talk about whole food vitamin C, we're talking about getting, like, the whole food form, whether that's in your adrenal cocktail, which our recipes have about 60 milligrams in one. And you, you don't need 1000 milligrams of vitamin C a day. So I feel like that's your typical recommendation, or the serving size on a vitamin C supplement, that's ascorbic acid based—we don't need that much, we need a lot less when it comes to the whole foods. 

Same thing with beef liver, like, how we're saying some people have a strong response… just take less, it's okay, like, you don't have to follow what's on the label—you have to take what works for you. So we really prioritize whole food forms of vitamin C. You can get them from citrus fruits, obviously, that's the ones that you're typically getting in the adrenal cocktail. You could get a powder form like citrus fruit powder or like a berry powder. A lot of them are mixed, like, we really like the Pure Radiance Pure Synergy vitamin C powder. There are ones that are not quite as concentrated, like the Pure Radiance one it's, like, I think a quarter teaspoon has about almost 500 milligrams. So we're like don't take too much more than that, you know, you really don't need, and some people don't even need that much. So you could get like a camu camu powder that's not quite as concentrated, but you don't need a lot.

And I think that's what surprises people with the whole food stuff is, like, oh, I don't have to take like eight capsules of this to get like 1000 milligrams of vitamin C…like, nope. And if anything you could just prioritize the foods. I feel like this time of year, a lot of us are naturally already eating a lot more vitamin C, because that, you know, we're recording this in July. It's one of those things where we definitely need it. It works with copper to do a lot of important things in the body, whether that’s strengthen our collagen support or bone health, help with wound healing, but it's also important for our nervous system, right. So it is really big for how we respond to stress. It actually does increase your magnesium requirement, because obviously if it's going to allow you to make more cortisol, you're going to need more magnesium in that process. So just like Emily said, everything goes together, right. So that's why we wouldn't want to necessarily take a ton of vitamin C without also be supporting our magnesium levels. And yeah, it's, it's important for the structure of our neurons that make up that nervous system. It's pretty neat. So in order to have a healthy stress response to use copper properly in the body, and just, you know, have that powerful antioxidant, you really want to go for the whole foods vitamin C and avoid those ascorbic acid supplements.

Emily: Right, and as Amanda mentioned, if you are eating like in the summer, a lot of seasonal foods, fresh fruit, fresh fruit juices, some vegetables, like, your, you might be getting enough—you might not even need to supplement. So again, it's all based on your personal history, your, you know, your HTMA if you, if you've done testing, all that good stuff. But the last one we're going to talk about today is actually super important for digestion, because I know that period symptoms and PCOS, hypothyroidism, all of those conditions can go hand in hand with poor gut health. So this is something we wanted to throw in there, because it's something we both utilize for better digestion and it's digestive bitters, which most of you are probably familiar with. I love them. I think they taste actually really good even though they're bitter. I love to take like a little tincture before my meals to help stimulate those digestive juices. And that's what they do. So they, they help with symptoms like gas and bloating, heartburn, and indigestion by helping our bodies create and secrete those acids, stomach acids, and, and juices to help break down our food. So you can either do digestive bitters or apple cider vinegar about 15 minutes before meals, and either one is helpful. I've done both. I've kind of rotated back and forth depending on if I have digestive bitters or not. But what I love about this is that it's different than taking just an HCl supplement. So a lot of people will recommend, just take HCl, do the HCl challenge where, you know, you take one capsule with a meal, see if you get that burning or warming since sensation, and then you go up from there. I actually don't like recommending HCl, because you're not actually teaching your body to secrete and make its own stomach acids, you're just you're supplying that stomach acid. And I don't feel like that's the more holistic way to go. I feel like doing the digestive bitters can help longer in the longer term.

Amanda: And it's the same with digestive enzymes. We get that question a lot: oh, what about, I'm taking digestive enzymes, do I still need the bitters? And it's, you're putting an exogenous source of—whether it's enzymes or stomach acid, which is all the HCl is—into your body versus the bitters or the apple cider vinegar are going to help you stimulate and make your own. And so if you're someone that maybe you connected with our metabolism podcast, and you're like, I definitely feel like I have a slower metabolism. I've got these hormone imbalances, I deal with bloating, maybe you’re more on the constipated side, then the bitters can help you kind of improve that process. Obviously, we want to improve our metabolism so that we don't need bitters. So we don't necessarily think everyone needs digestive bitters or apple cider vinegar. But a lot of us are eating when we're stressed out, we're eating while we're doing other things. Or if you're traveling or eating out, you're, you just might not do as well. Like, I just, I definitely bring them with me when I travel, because it's, you know, you're getting all these oils and stuff that you're not necessarily used to. So they can just kind of help keep things moving along.

But they're also really good for your liver health. So I would just kind of keep that in mind too. If you have liver health concerns or if you don't have a gallbladder please take bitters forever. If you don't have a gallbladder, make sure you're also taking ox bile. Talk with your doctor about that. Say, hey, should I be taking this? They usually just recommend a lower fat diet, but we need healthy fats, right? We just talked a ton about vitamin A so I'm sure you kind of made that connection. You know, some people need support long-term if they don't have a gallbladder. Sometimes it's just during that healing process. There are markers on your hair tests that we go through inside our Master Your Minerals course, that are like, hey, you should probably really take digestive bitters if you have these levels high or low. So there's definitely ways to know but it doesn't hurt. And if you forget, because let's be real, how many people are remembering 15 minutes before their meal?

Emily: Takes practice. 

Amanda: It does. I usually say start taking them as soon as you start putting your food together, because that's going to be at least like five minutes, right. So if you can at least do them then. If you forget, you can still take them after. Please do not just not take them, you can still do them later. The only kind of thing with these is that they are not recommended during pregnancy, because a lot of them have herbs in them, right. So you could use apple cider vinegar instead. We have a lot of clients that choose to do that, especially if they're having heartburn and constipation and bloating, they'll do that. Urban Moonshine also makes a Calm Tummy bitters version that is technically safe during pregnancy, but not like every single meal. So you'd want to use them maybe once a day or a few times a week if you're dealing with heartburn or bloating or indigestion or something like that. But a lot of our clients just do the apple cider vinegar honestly, and then work on maybe they you can use things like DGL when you're pregnant if you have heartburn or like an inner leaf version of aloe vera juice. There's plenty of other things that you can kind of try if you feel, like, bummed that you can't do the bitters when you're pregnant. I know sometimes that can be annoying.

Remember that, like, we're kind of going through these whole foods, whole food based supplements, things that can support your own kind of digestive process in the body. But these are only going to work well for you if you have a solid nutrition foundation. If this is your first episode with us, or you haven't listened to our earlier episodes, we cannot, like, stress enough, like, go back to listen Episode Two. We talked about how to build a nourishing nutrition foundation there. When we skip this step and we try to just find the next supplement that we want to take it's going to make this whole healing process take so much longer—it's not going to help your hair test much at all if you're doing that as well. And like energy and stuff, whatever those main complaints are, you can't skip the foundations. So while we are, you know, talking about certain supplements that we love and things like that, make sure that you're prioritizing food first

Emily: Not to mention, it's kind of a waste of money if you just skip directly to the supplements.

Amanda: Yeah. 

Emily: So just, you know, to benefit in saving money and just save your wallet a whole lot of stress just, just start with the food first. But next episode, we're going to be talking about period pain. That's what we're diving into next…the different types, but also how to build a period pain toolkit. So definitely tune in. We have a lot of good information for you there too. And we hope you enjoyed this one.

Thank you for listening to the Are You Menstrual? podcast. If you want to stay connected with us, I highly recommend joining our Feminine Periodical newsletter. It is a weekly newsletter, goes out on Sunday evenings, and we share tons of information in there. We go in depth on one specific topic each week, and it allows us to go into more detail, we share the latest podcast episode, and then we also share an obsession of the week—something that we've just really been loving lately. So definitely connect with us there. The link for that is in our show notes. And then of course follow us on Instagram @hormonehealingrd. And you can find all of our available courses on our website hormonehealingrd.com. Thank you and we will see you next episode.


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