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Do I really need a multivitamin for PMDD?

pmdd supplements Jun 12, 2023

 

When I say the word "supplement", what comes to mind? 

  • Did it conjure up images of life-saving little capsules that you can't live without?
  • Or did you start picturing the pile of bottles that you've tossed aside because they didn't make a difference? 🙋‍♀️

If you raised your hand at the latter, you're not alone. 

Many of my clients come to me with a laundry list of all the supplements that they're taking or that they've tried before. Often times, if one thing doesn't work, they'll add another. Then another. Then another. 

Before they know it, they're taking anywhere from five to twenty supplements and still SUFFERING. 

If this is you, it's not your fault.

The supplement industry is confusing with conflicting information at every corner. 

I'm a registered dietitian but my undergraduate education had ZERO hours of training on supplements. ZERO. Same goes for doctors too, by the way. Wild, right?

That's why I've invested thousands of dollars and hours into functional medicine training and learning specifically about supplements... because I know how hopeless it can feel when you feel like you've tried it all. 

Now I work day in and day out creating personalized and effective nutrition and supplement plans that actually make a difference with PMDD symptoms.

So back to that laundry list of supplements...

When I evaluate each new client's supplement list with a fine-toothed comb, you know the one that that I often find missing?

A high-quality multivitamin. 

And why is that? Because a multivitmain isn't sexy. How could something so simple make a difference with such debilitating symptoms?

   

Do I really need a multivitamin? 

A multivitamin serves as the foundation. It's those nutrients that make every other fancy, sexy, specialized supplement work effectively. In other words, when chosen wisely, it enhances the benefits of the other supplements. 

For example, without nutrients, you cannot create and convert those precious mood-balancing brain chemicals like serotonin, GABA, and dopamine that are so often disrupted in PMDD.

But why is a multivitamin so necessary in a nation where food is so abundant?

Check out the percentages of people in the United States not meeting the RDA, or Recommended Dietary Allowance, for the following nutrients:

  • 75% didn’t meet the RDA for folate
  • 73% didn’t meet the RDA for calcium
  • 68% didn’t meet the RDA for magnesium
  • 30% didn’t meet the RDA for B12
  • 35% didn’t meet the RDA for B6
  • 42% didn’t meet the RDA for zinc

[United Stated States Department of Agriculture (2009)]

What’s more, the RDA is the amount needed to prevent DEFICIENCY based on age and gender, not the amount needed to support optimal health. And even if someone is meeting that RDA, they can still experience significant symptoms due to suboptimal levels.

 

Simply put, we’re not just aiming to NOT be deficient. We want optimal levels to power the metabolic pathways that influence our hormonal health, energy, and mood. 

 

With the Standard American Diet, it’s incredibly likely that there are nutrient gaps to fill. But what about balanced diets?

 

Isn't food enough if I eat healthy enough?

So you may be asking, what if I could eat a super balanced, nutrient-dense diet with minimal processed foods, “Isn’t that enough?” Or perhaps you’re already doing a darn good job most of the time, you may be asking “But do I really need a multivitamin?

Yes. 

Let’s talk about why. 

Even AMAZING diets have nutrient gaps due to: 

  • Modern agriculture resulting in declining amounts of nutrients in soil and thus our produce
  • Food transport and storage, with nutrients dwindling with the length of time it takes from farm to plate
  • Mental-emotional stress plus physical stress (including exercise!) that increase nutrient needs beyond that standard requirements
  • Gut dysfunction and certain foods that impact digestion & absorption of nutrients
  • Birth control & medications that deplete nutrients, creating even more nutrient gaps to fill

 

With all that we’re up against, a high-quality multivitamin can help provide a nutrient insurance policy to make sure you’re meeting your needs.

 

Why food is always first, but supplements are still second.

As a functional registered dietitian, I wholeheartedly believe in a “food first” approach.

 

There is a magical synergy that happens in food with nature’s intended blend of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.

 

In fact, 99% of bioactives that make plants so amazing for our health are still yet to be discovered. That means this magic cannot be captured and encapsulated into a pill. 

However, our modern busy lifestyles aren’t always conducive to balancing our plates at every meal with nutrient-dense foods. And even if you could, it’s typically still not enough. 

Plus, around here, we know that it can be extra challenging to consistently eat healthy when you're struggling with PMDD symptoms. 

That's why I almost always recommend that my clients start with a high-quality multivitamin

 

Sorry, there's no magic pill or all-in-one supplement for PMDD.

But let’s be clear, there's not a single supplement that's a cure-all for PMDD. However, a high-quality multivitamin serves as the foundation of a strategic supplement plan. From there, it becomes more personalized based on someone's unique genetics, physiology, and brain chemistry. 

And while I find that supplements ABSOLUTELY can make a difference in reducing PMDD symptoms in the clients I work with, here's the hard truth: 

 

We cannot out supplement a poor diet. In other words, there’s no amount of supplements in the world that can undo the metabolic mayhem created by a diet filled with processed and inflammatory foods. 

 

The good news is, you just have to eat “good enough” about 80% of the time to reap the benefits of a diet based on whole foods.

We love a good 80/20 rule because life is too short not to indulge and no food is “bad.” Some foods are simply more nutrient dense, meaning they have more nutritional bang for the buck, and offer an abundance of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. 

 

Start here for more peacful periods:

Start with these 3 simple but powerful steps to lay the foundation for menstrual health and happier, healthier periods. 

  1. Balance your plate with whole unprocessed foods. Remember, we’re aiming for a “good enough” diet most of the time. Read more here about how to balance your plate!
  2. Take a high-quality multivitamin and extra magnesium. Keep it simple with Marea and make drinking your Elixir an enjoyable part of your daily routine to stay consistent. Then seek specialized guidance for a more personalized plan. 
  3. Get in tune with your cycle. Track your cycle and journal how each phase feels for you. 

 

[Mandy Rother serves as Chief Medical Advisor for Marea, a wellness brand for menstruators. Portions of this article was originally written by Mandy Rother for Marea and posted here: https://mareawellness.com/blogs/news/do-i-really-need-supplements-why-food-isnt-always-enough]

 

*All information on this site is general information and education only and is not meant to be personal medical advice or a substitute for a medical evaluation.

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