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4 Supplements Women Should Know About

In general, supplements are unisex. Vitamin D, fish oil, etc – they tend to get marketed equally. If you look at the supplements marketed specifically to men, you’ll see supplements for virility, fertility, testosterone, well-being, strength, cognition, and everything related to being “manly.”  For women, the targeting seems to start and end with osteoporosis and menopause.

The reality is that while most men-targeted supplements are fairly useless, there are actually quite a few supplements that would benefit women!

Of course, before we go any further, it’s good to remember that supplements are just that—a supplement to your well-rounded lifestyle that should include good nutrition, intelligent training, quality sleep, proper stress management techniques and adequate sunshine. So make sure those are in order as well.

Here are four supplements that could benefit women, starting with the most interesting:

1. Vitex Agnus Castus (chasteberry)

vitex-450x292Purpose: alleviating PMS Symptoms

Vitex agnus castus (chasteberry) is a supplement that that is known for one thing, and it does this one thing very well.  When taken once a day (regardless of your cycle), it significantly reduces symptoms of PMS.  The worse your symptoms are, the better it seems to work!

It’s potent, i’s reliable, and it’s safe too. VAC is perhaps the only dietary supplement with reliable evidence to support a reduction in symptoms of PMS ranging from insomnia, irritability, and anger, all the way to breast tenderness and libido fluctuations.

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2. Creatine

Purpose: Antidepressive

Creatine is known as the most popular bodybuilding supplement. It increases power output in both genders, but there may be a benefit to creatine that applies to only women.

One very well controlled study noted that while creatine itself was not antidepressive, it was able to augment the efficacy of the SSRI class of antidepressants in people who did not respond to therapy. This is the best controlled study, but previous research showed it effective in youth and adults when there appeared to be a sexual dimorphism; (ie. only female subjects benefitted from creatine supplementation). Creatine itself is weakly antidepressive, but it is also incredibly safe (all concerns about kidney and/or liver damage are based on zero evidence).

3. Maca Root

maca-450x388Purpose: sexual dysfunction and sexual well-being

When it comes to libido enhancers, it seems like everything is targeted to men. A surprising reason is due to research realities – it is easy to measure libido enhancement in male rats!

For women, a good option is maca root (lepidium meyenii), which has been demonstrated to enhance libido in both sexes. It is also known to be non-hormonal, and is safe. As a bonus, it appears to be safe and effective for reducing sexual dysfunction induced by antidepressant drugs (SSRIs) based on preliminary evidence.

4. Berberine and Inositol

Purpose: insulin resistance associated with PCOS

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) can cause significant impairments to quality of life and weight loss. It is a condition where the body is insulin resistant. This causes an increase in androgens (masculine hormones), and can cause various negative issues.

PCOS is usually treated with Metformin, a pharmaceutical anti-diabetic drug that improves insulin sensitivity (and thus decreases the androgens). Berberine happens to be mostly equivalent to metformin; they have minor differences, but are comparable with regards to insulin sensitivity.

Inositol works in a different way, but in the end also also improves insulin sensitivity in women with PCOS. Inositol can actually be used in conjunction with berberine.

While taking supplements for “general health” is usually a waste of money, targeted supplementation that tackles specific health goals can be an effective method in dealing with certain issues.

 

As we all know, supplements are just one small piece of the puzzle when it comes to looking good, feeling good, and feeling healthy and strong, and without solid nutrition and a smart training program, you won’t see maximum results. If you’re looking for help with a smart training program, we can help.

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About The Author: Dr. Spencer Nadolsky

Dr. Spencer Nadolsky is a family physician who pushes lifestyle before pharmaceuticals (when possible). He’s also a key team member at Examine.com—a website dedicated to honest, science-supported, and up-to-date information about supplements—and is one of the editors behind The Supplement-Goals Reference Guide. Learn more about Dr. Nadolsky on his website, or find him on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.