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11 Minutes

Our top science backed supplements for every stage

We often get asked about supplements for each stage of the journey. From fertility and conception through to the early years. As we constantly reiterate, we have a bit of a love-hate with supplements. Click here for much more as to why/what is important to be mindful of. However, when it is done in a conscious and mindful way (that means talking to your doctor/having your individual levels checked) there is some evidence-based research showing that certain supplements can be helpful for some of the specific challenges we may encounter. At every stage. 

Here’s what you need to know! 

Supplements

The main reason we are cautious on supplements (in short – click here for longer version!) is because everyone is different with different needs. No two people are the same. Unfortunately we are often sold ‘cure alls’ by supplement companies. If only it was that simple! 

The other problem is that not enough people test their individual levels. This can make taking supplements dangerous (there is such a thing as ‘too much’) . It is also because the supplement market is unregulated and because there is varying quality/amounts depending on the brand. Finally, because the body is designed in the majority of cases to either produce its own or get it from food. Albeit it something that can be a challenge in our modern life. 

 

However: there is a right time and place for supplements. It’s just finding what is right for you as an individual. Knowledge is power! 

All this being said, when done in the right way, supplements can be a very powerful potential positive depending on your needs. They can be useful for everything from hormonal imbalance, to egg/sperm quality, to brain development, to PCOS/Endometriosis to immunity.

We just insist on one thing: speaking to your doctor and getting tested first! 

Once you have done that, here are a few of our tried, trusted and most importantly science and evidence backed helping hands for each stage.

N.b. This is not a full list, there are others, this is just our top science backed supplements that we think are worth investigating. See if they may be right for you! 

We are going to take a look at supplements (and helping hands) for: 

For hormones: a helping hand towards balance: 

Our modern world does a fantastic job at pushing our body’s ability to keep hormones in balance. Many of us now (unknowingly) suffer with imbalances. Here are our favourite helping hands for this: 

Inositol: A supplement for PCOS/gestational diabetes:

70% of women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) have insulin resistance. 50% of people who have it also are undiagnosed  click here for more. Insulin resistance essentially means your cells do not let in sugar for energy in the correct way. Too much sugar = too much insulin. The trouble with this (amongst other things) is that it can mean too much free testosterone/not enough of the ‘carrier’ that ensures it gets to the right place (SHBG). These factors cause many of the symptoms and issues of PCOS. That unfortunately can include problems with fertility. For much more on this click here. However, in short: Inositol (over 24 weeks) has shown notable positives reducing insulin/testosterone and LH and increases the testosterone carrier SHBG. All things we want! 

Inositol has also shown some positive results when it comes to prevention of Gestational Diabetes (although more research needs to be done). Particularly with those who have PCOS. 

How much do you want? The science suggests 400mg/day is a good starting point. As always speak to your doctor first. Particularly if you suspect you may be suffering from PCOS. Click here for much more. 

Our favourite brand (no, we’re not getting a kick back!) is here

Vitamin D3: a supplement for hormones, really?!

Vitamin D is going to crop up a lot! Did you know it is actually classed as a steroid hormone?! Yes, not just a vitamin – which many of us do not have enough of. 

Although the link between PCOS, hormonal imbalance and Vitamin D3 is not super clear cut. We know there is a link. Having ‘enough’ is never going to be a bad thing. Especially if you have hormonal imbalance as we know D3 plays a role here. Get yours checked, especially during the winter months. Click here for much more. 

The Adaptogens: Maca/Ashwagandha:

There are specific plants who are officially classified as ‘Adaptogen’. What does that mean? Essentially they have shown a clinical ability to help the body rebalance itself. Click here for much more.

Two in particular have shown clinical promise for our purposes: 

Maca: the beauty of this root, is that unlike say soy (which mimics Estrogen), Maca relies on plant sterols which effectively trigger a chain reaction which helps the body modulate its own hormonal production better. So nothing added – just supporting the body do what it does best. Maca appears to have numerous benefits, targeting not just one hormone but a broad spectrum. Including stress hormone regulation and LH reduction. It has also been linked to improved mood and libido. Click here for more

Our favourite is here (once again, we are not affiliated with any of these companies this are just the ones we have tried and like). 

Speaking of stress reduction, can a supplement help?! 

Ashwagdha: evidence is pretty conclusive that high levels of the stress hormone cortisol is not good for us over a long period of time. Particularly when it comes to having a small person – which can be stressful in itself! Click here for more. Obviously addressing the root cause of this is a top priority. However, once you’ve done this, Ashwagandha may be something to help support your body deal with the physical effects. It has shown evidence of lowering serum cortisol levels in the blood in humans by as much as 30% after 60 days. Click here for the science. 

How much? With both of these the first thing you do is to speak to your doctor (obviously). The second thing to do is NOT to take them if you’re pregnant and breastfeeding. Once you’ve passed those two hurdles (!) always read the manufacturers guidelines and start small, see how you get on and then you can build up gradually from there. Everyone is different so always good to start slow! 

Curve ball: the biggest endocrine (hormone) organ in the body? 

The gut: you didn’t think you could get away with reading an article from us with no mention of the gut did you?! Did you know it is actually the biggest hormone producer in our body?!! So, when it comes to looking after hormonal balance you have to think about this. This is not about a supplement per se (it’s complicated when it comes to the subject of probiotics). Click here for some practical science-backed ways you can focus on improving your gut health. 

Supplements for egg/sperm quality: 

Whether we like it or not, our age and lifestyles don’t generally help preserve our all important eggs and sperm. However, we have taken a look at some of the supplements that can make a difference either halting the decline or protecting these very important elements!  

CoQ10/Ubiquinol: 

Oxidative stress is something that causes damage to our cells. Click here for much more. CoQ10 is an antioxidant aka it fights this potential source of damage. A good start! It is produced naturally in the body but alas declines as we age. The trouble is research shows that oxidative stress plays a significant role in diminished egg reserve and sperm quality. CoQ10 has shown benefit from a protection point of view but also benefits around ovulation. Amongst other things. 

Sperm is particularly vulnerable to oxidative stress. Antioxidants are something that can be useful to tackle damage. Click here for much more. 

How much? The good news here is that research suggests that there is no major downside to taking this and it is safe up until around 900mg/day. Like with everything you don’t want too much. The less good news is that there is less research around how much is ideal and how long to take it for. A number of studies suggest a range of 200mg-500mg/day. Click here for much more.  

N.b. Ubiquinol (a form of CoQ10) is on the margin more bioavailable for the body.  

Speaking of cell damage and how we can protect from it: 

Important for all aspects of our health!

Glutathione/NAC: defenders of our cells! 

Glutathione is known as the ‘master antioxidant’. Click here for much more. The good news, is that the body produces it itself. It is also one of our best forms of defence against cell damage. The bad news is that it depletes. Particularly if our body is facing a lot of toxic exposure, physical stress and as we age. It is also not something that you can generally take in most supplement forms as it gets lost in digestion. However… 

This is where N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) as a supplement comes in: 

NAC is one of the building blocks to help the body make its own Glutathione. Even better, it is an antioxidant in its own right. Research has shown this to be an excellent tool for the body to defend itself and it’s cells. It has also shown to be nice and safe. Click here for more. 

Meat stock?! 

Meat stock (yep) provides the building blocks for the body to make its own glutathione. It is also a staple for helping the all important gut wall. Good all round! Click here for much more plus here for some ways to build Glutathione naturally in the body. 

Curve ball! Intermittent fasting…. 

Ok so not a supplement! However, research has shown lots of benefits for health from intermittent fasting. What is this? Well click here for much more, plus the science. In a nutshell however, this is where you ‘fast’ for a period of time. That can be something like 5:2 (eating normally for five days and very restricted calories for two) or 16:8 which is eating for eight hours in 24 and then nothing at all for 16. Recent research has shown that doing this can potentially reduce the speed in decline in eggs in particular. 

Supplements for pregnancy/developing brains and immunity: 

Folate: 

So we all know that folic acid is something we need. However, did you know that Folic Acid is the synthetic version of what we really need: Folate. The other thing to know is that some people cannot absorb this due to a genetic difference. You will probably not realise that you are impacted, but, the good news is that taking the natural or food based form of folate: Methylfolate means you will get what you need. The reality is our bodies are designed to get what they need from food. However, we definitely need a boost around pregnancy. Given this,  we would always rather go with the food form rather than the synthetic version folic acid. Safest bet. Click here for more. 

How much do we want? The official recommendation is 400 micrograms (mcg) before, during pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding. In fact, it is important to have it in your system BEFORE pregnancy. Why? Birth defects can occur at the earliest stages. By taking it ahead of time you are reducing your risks. Always good to be proactive! 

Some higher risk women (when there is a family history/diabetes) are advised to take 500 mcg. Research suggests that above that level is not necessary.

Here is our favourite brand. 

DHA: 

Healthy brain development is obviously something we want. Research is discovering that one of the ways we can get trouble across many areas is a result of chronic inflammation. Click here for much more. It is also being linked to things like chronic anxiety and depression. Click here for more. The good news is that DHA which is commonly found in oily fish is an excellent protector against this. Research shows it is powerful in protecting cells and giving developing brains a helping hand. Click here for more. 

The non supplement route? 1-2 portions of oily fish (low down the food chain) should also do the job! 

Vitamin D: once again! 

Vitamin D keeps cropping up in many areas. Underlying how important ‘getting enough’ is. Research is suggesting that having enough during pregnancy is required for brain function, development and protection. Click here for more. It is also linked to reduction in infections. Particularly ear, nose and throat and even asthma. Check out much more here. Make sure your levels are being checked. 

Our favourite is here: 

Probiotic supplements: are they worth it and which ones?! 

We are fast realising the power of a healthy gut for most things to do with our health. However, when it comes to probiotic supplements the jury is very much out. Click here for more. What is becoming clear is that there is supportive evidence for very specific strains for specific issues. Such as:

Probiotic supplements for colic/sicky babies? 

Research is mounting for the probiotic Lactobacillus Reuteri given to babies who are struggling with Colic/spitting up a lot. The good news is that research suggests that this is safe even in preterm babies. Obviously it goes without saying (we will say it anyway!) ALWAYS speak to your doctor first. Click here for the research to discuss with them

What about for building immunity?

We are learning increasingly about the power of the gut for immunity. Or specifically for helping reduce the risk and incidence of autoimmune conditions and allergies. Once again the research is still in its infancy. However, we know that fibre or more specifically prebiotic fibre (having enough during pregnancy) can be powerful in helping reduce the risks. Click here for more. Obviously getting fibre from whole food sources is preferable. Particularly during pregnancy. However, if you wanted a helping hand Inulin Fibre is something worth checking out. Start off slow however, particularly if you are pregnant as digestion can be tricky during this time. As always, speak to your doctor first! Click here for much more. 

Probiotic supplements for endometriosis and infertility?

Recent research has identified that we all have a reproductive microbiome (men too). When this is out of balance, even subtly (we are not just talking major infection) there are links to endometriosis, infertility and even miscarriage. Work here (once again) is in its infancy, however one strain Lactobacillus with one strain in particular: Lactobacillus Rhamnosus showing some encouraging results. Click here for much more. Worth a chat with your doctor about at least! 

Dr Karoshi on our advisory board likes these: 

Lactobacillus Rhamnosos. 

Raw probiotics Vaginal Care 

This is of course not an exhaustive list. Everyone has different needs. This is just a list of helping hands that science says could be helpful on our journey. Click the links by each for much more detail and the science. Remember, in case we haven’t said it enough (!) get tested and always speak to your doctor before taking supplements. It is important! (Broken record we know!) 

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This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. The information on this website has been developed following years of personal research and from referenced and sourced medical research. Before making any changes we strongly recommend you consult a healthcare professional before you begin.

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Each month we will be giving away a curated box of goodies to suit the individual stage of your Journey, worth £100. To enter the draw and join us, enter your details below. Winner announced at the end of the month.

 

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