Menopause Vitamins

vitamins for menopauseReaching `middle age` is a special time in a womans life, but unfortunately not always an easy one!  By the time most women reach 50 they find themselves with an unfamiliar body that behaves in a totally alien way and over which they have little control. That`s why specific menopause vitamins are so important as a natural menopause remedy.

Why Are Vitamins So Important?

As we all know, it is vitally important that we get the correct amount of vitamins, minerals and nutrients to enable our bodies to function at its peak.  Especially as we age and our body needs a little extra help, But what happens, during those times when this just is not possible? Perhaps during illness, or when women want to alleviate menopausal symptoms.

Which Ones Are The Right Ones?

Vitamin tablets have always been popular to `top up` our daily amount and to ensure that we receive adequate quantities. But how much do we actually know about these formulations and how do we go about selecting the right menopause vitamins for our needs?

If you believe that the one-a-day vitamin pill can provide you with all the nutrients your body needs, then think again. Trying to include all the nutrients and vitamins in one tablet, would make it impossibly large. There is a limit to how much can be put in one capsule before it gets as big as a ball.  So if a brand of multi vitamins claims to be the best in the world, but are the one-a-day type, it`s probably best to keep your distance.

Interestingly, one of the most popular one-a-day formulas for menopausal vitamins, contains only 30 IU’s (int’l units) of vitamin E, and only 150 mg. calcium.  It’s an acknowledged fact that, perimenopausal women require 1250 mg. of calcium per day and postmenopausal women 1500 mg. daily, to keep their bones strong.  In addition, folic acid is essential for heart health and so any formula not containing at least 400 mcg. is certainly not ideal.

Getting The Right Balance

An important point to remember, is that menopause vitamins, minerals and other nutrients work synergistically, vitamins for menopausemeaning that other nutrients are required to enable any of the vitamins to perform at their best.  For example, calcium needs vitamin D to be absorbed and vitamin E must have zinc.  So it is worth doing your homework to find out which vitamins require `support` to do their work.

The ingredients used in multi vitamins also vary in their potency, from brand to brand.  And with the makers of these formulas being unregulated and some of the cheaper types containing fillers and other useless ingredients, how on earth are women supposed to know which is the best for us?

`Natural` Isn`t Always  Best

The trick is to educate yourself.  Find out as much information as you can about menopause vitamins and minerals before using anything.  Try different combinations until you find the right one.  If you’re using any prescription or over the counter medication(s), before adding extra vitamins to your diet, it’s important to check with your healthcare professional to be sure there is no chance of one counter acting the other.  Just because it may say “natural” on the label, doesn’t mean it can’t cause toxicity or other health issues.

Menopause Food

food for menopauseAlthough we should always maintain a healthy lifestyle – taking enough exercise, limiting caffeine, eating well etc – most of us take our good health for granted.  Then wham! menopause hits and if we haven`t got our diet in place, with the right menopause food and menopause vitamins , we really start to feel the impact.

Our digestive tract becomes less efficient, digestion takes longer and we finds it harder to cope with foods that are high in calories and low in nutritional value.

Our body still needs at least the same amount of nutrients as it did before and possibly even more of certain ones and a diet which is low in fat, sugar and salt and high in fiber, will reduce the physical and mental symptoms of menopause.

SOY

When we talk about  which menopause food is beneficial, top of the agenda surely must be soy and soya products.  It is widely known that the ladies of China and Japan, who eat a diet rich in soy, suffer from fewer menopausal symptoms than western women.  These ladies also appear to have much lower incidences of diseases such as osteoporosis, breast cancer and heart disease.

As soy contains a weak compound similar to estrogen, this is suspected to be the reason.  Soy products are widely available in supermarkets and can be taken as

  • Milk
  • Beans
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt

And a wide variety of ready made products.

VITAMIN E

It has been suggested that vitamin E may help to reduce hot flashes and some of the foods that are rich in this vitamin, are:

  • Avocado
  • Peanut oil
  • Almonds
  • Hazelnuts
  • Tuna in oil
  • Sunflower oil

CALCIUM

Calcium is important throughout life, but particularly during and after the menopause when loss of it can lead to osteoporosis. By including about 1500mg of calcium in your diet with plenty of calcium rich menopause foods, you will minimise the risk. Foods such as:

  • Almondsmenopause food
  • Dried apricots
  • Soya
  • flour
  • Sardines
  • Spinach
  • Watercress
  • Yoghurt

FAT

Too much fat is cause of concern for many people – and rightly so. Supermarkets are full of low fat or fat free products which can be mind boggling, so rather than spend time scouring around for the lowest fat items, get into the habit of using less fat generally.  Take your bread without it, don’t put a dollop on your vegetables and use sparingly when frying food.  All simple measures which add up to a massive saving in fat calories.

OMEGA 3

Omega 3 essential fatty acids are found in oily fish, but an even richer source is Flaxseed.  I personally take one dessertspoonful every day.  Not strictly a menopause food I suppose, but I`m convinced that my hair, nails and skin benefit from it.

IRON

To get your adequate intake of iron – the recommended dietary allowance for women is 8 milligrams a day, eat 3 portions of:

  • Lean red meat
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Free range eggs
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Grain products

FIBER

Most adult women should eat about 20 grams of fiber per day from foods such as:

  • Whole grain breads
  • Cereals (not the sugary type)
  • Pasta
  • Brown rice
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables

CARBOHYDRATES

Carbohydrates are not the villains they are sometimes made out to be and we need them for energy.  If we don`t get enough complex carbohydrates in our diet, we will be more likely to grab something sweet, which will make us feel tired and lethargic.

It is important to make sure that you get enough B-complex vitamins in your diet.

  • Pulses
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower and other most green vegetables are all good sources of carbohydrates and the B vitamins

Following these simple guidelines on the best menopausal food will help reduce the need for pharmaceutical remedies.

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Bioidentical Hormone Therapy

bioidentical hormone therapyThe decision to undergo hormone replacement therapy(HRT), always has been and perhaps always will be, a controversial one.  There are many things to consider before embarking on hormone therapy, but lately there`s been a new kid on the block in the relief of menopausal symptoms– bioidentical hormone therapy(BHT).


Traditional Hormone Therapy

The hormone therapy that we`re all familiar with, uses the urine from pregnant mares, plus a host of chemical additives to achieve the same effect as the hormones that are naturally produced by our body.  The introduction of these elements to the body can have some very undesirable side effects, as synthetic hormone therapy is unable to take into account the differences in the hormonal make-up of individual women.  They may be metabolized and react differently than expected in some people.

The slightest deficiency or excess of a certain hormone can tip the body off balance. Sometimes, when this happens, it may make you feel out of sorts, unwell and even depressed. It may cause one of any number of different complaints. This is where bio-identical hormone replacement therapy comes in.

The Case For Bioidentical Therapy

Devotees claim that Bioidentical therapy is said to be more of a natural menopause remedy , as the raw materials used as the basis for the hormones, are extracted from plants.  Although the word “natural” is nowadays bandied around as part of many a sales pitch and it could be argued that the mare`s urine is a natural substance, so I would prefer to use botanical as a description.

How Does It Work?

bio-identical hormone therapySome bioidentical hormones are tailored for the individual woman, replicated from saliva or blood samples.  These are compounds and as they aren`t a standard formula, it is impossible to test every individual preparation.  Compounds therefore, are not approved by the FDA.  This does not mean that the medication is dangerous or would not benefit the patient, but there is no requirement for the dispenser to provide the usual warnings that must be given with FDA approved hormone therapy.

Bioidentical hormones – which the therapy is are available in a variety of forms, such as oral, patches, creams, lotion or drops.  It is believed that transdermal delivery often leads to more consistent hormonal levels.
The reason that many women may not be aware of BHT is that these hormones are considered to be identical to those that occur naturally in the body and as such, they cannot be patented.  Just as one cannot patent skin or muscle.  This unfortunately offers little incentive for the large pharmaceutical companies to pursue the treatment and instead they prefer to offer only the artificial hormones that can be patented.

There are some doctors however, who are offering this alternative.

What Are The Benefits?

bio-identical hormone therapyEstrogen:

  • Reduces risk of heart disease
  • Decreases risk of bowel cancer
  • Improves quality of sleep
  • Improves mood
  • Decreases blood pressure
  • Reduces wrinkles
  • Maintains bone density
  • Increases sexual desire

Progesterone :

  • Builds bone
  • Lowers high blood pressure
  • Increases metabolic rate
  • Protects against endometrial cancer
  • Helps balance estrogens
  • Natural anti-depressant
  • Lowers cholesterol

If you are interested in exploring the possibility of undergoing bioidentical therapy, speak with your doctor and find out if he offers the treatment.  If not he may well be able to refer you to a practitioner who does.

Soy & Menopause

soya menopauseSoy(soya in the UK), has recently been hailed as the latest `discovery` in the fight against menopausal symptoms, although in actual fact, soy protein has been used as a food ingredient for over forty years.

If you`re unsure of the merits of eating a diet rich in soy products, this article will hopefully make things clearer for you.

How Would It Help?

As women move towards menopause and estrogen levels begin to drop, we experience symptoms associated with fluctuating hormones.  Soy products such as tofu, tempeh and miso are rich sources of a substance similar to estrogen, called isoflavones. Some people claim that foods containing soy are a simplified and natural form of HRT (albeit a weakened version). So what exactly do we know about soy as a menopause food?

In Japan, where soy foods are consumed daily, women are one-third as likely to suffer menopausal symptoms as in the United States or Canada. Interestingly there is no word in the Japanese language for “hot flashes”.

What Symptoms Does Soy Help With?

Soy seems to do very well in alleviating hot flashes and recent recommendations are that women take between 40 – 70 mg of soy per day to help with symptoms. That would equate to 1 – 4 servings every day.


To give you an idea of the approximate amount of isoflavones per serving, the following each contain 40 mg:

¨      Soy Milk – 1 cup

¨      Miso – ½ cup

¨      Tofu – 4oz

¨      Tempeh – 4oz

How Much Is Beneficial?

One study focused on post-menopausal women who consumed 40 grams of soy protein every day for 6 months. Researchers found that these women significantly increased their bone mineral density compared to the other group. Another study found that eating soy was associated with a significantly lower risk of fracture, particularly among post-menopausal women.

Regarding concerns of estrogen and breast cancer, it has been acknowledged that the phytoestrogens in soy foods, may block estrogen from reaching the receptors and therefore potentially protecting women from developing breast cancer. But for women who already have breast cancer, a few studies showed the estrogen like effects in isoflavones may prove harmful to them. If a women is post-menopausal,  concentrated soy supplements may add estrogen to the body and hence increase breast cancer risk. Therefore, post-menopausal women should avoid taking concentrated soy supplements until more is known.

As Yet, The Benefits Remain Unproven

American Institute for Cancer Research stresses that as yet, data on soy and breast cancer are not conclusive.  Prostate cancer seems to be very promising and many studies support the role of soy in the prevention and possible treatment of prostate cancer. Cancer research states that more work is needed in all areas of soy and cancer treatment before any dietary recommendations can be made.

Although vegetarians have been using soy as an alternative to meat for years—as it is a rich source of the B Vitamins– nowadays it can be found in a variety of foods, including, soy milk, soybeans and soy burgers. It is an excellent source of protein, calcium, iron, zinc and magnesium, low in saturated fats and has no cholesterol.

Now, while studies have shown that isoflavones behave like estrogens in the body and there has been improvement in symptoms for some women, it must be remembered that soy, manufacturers are keen to promote this message. After all, it`s good for business. But such a message may give women the impression that soy can be used alone to naturally relieve symptoms of menopause and as yet, this has not been confirmed by clinical studies.

As the connection of soy as an aid to menopause is quite recent, there is understandably lots of contradictory information and advice. As always, we have given you both sides of the story and the choice of whether to include soy products in your diet is of course entirely yours.

Please consult your doctor and a nutritionist if you do decide to change your diet dramatically.

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Natural Menopause Remedies

natural menopauseWhile there are plenty of medications available which can ease menopausal symptoms, some women prefer to try natural  remedies first.

Regular Exercise

Exercise such as walking for 20-30 minutes three or four times a week is a natural menopause remedy, that can improve your health and add years to your life.  Exercise strengthens the bones, increases wellbeing and can help make sleeping easier.  The hardest part of starting a new exercise regime – is starting!  Be find to pick something that you really enjoy and you’ll find that it easier to stick to your routing.

Isoflavones (phyto-estrogens)

There has been a lot of talk about Isoflavones and their benefits.  Highlighted by recent studies that showed how Chinese and Japanese women suffered from fewer menopausal symptoms than Western women, consumption of soy(soya) products is currently being investigated more thoroughly.  The ladies of China and Japan, eat a  diet that is rich in soy and as it contains a weak compound similar to estrogen, this was suspected to be the reason.  So, that`s another great natural menopause remedy that`s easily accessible and affordable.

Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

It is much better to get the menopause vitamins and minerals you need from your food. There may be occasions when your diet is limited due to illness or other circumstances and in this case, speak with a dietician about your nutritional requirements.  It is important not to take in too many of certain vitamins, so expert advice is recommended.

Water

Who would have thought of water as being a natural menopause remedy? The importance of water for proper functioning of the body cannot be over emphasized.  Make it a habit to drink water regularly throughout the day.  For those nearing menopause, if you drink adequate water, you will eventually notice a reduction in amount of hot flashes that you experience..

Bitter Leaf

Bitter leaf is said to be one of the best woman friendly plants around.  It is good for the body either before, during or after menopause and especially good for the relief from hot flashes.  Bitter leaf does not supply estrogen but helps the body to produce the amount of estrogen it needs.  Squeezing the fresh leaves of bitter leaf in water and taking a glass every morning and night is recommended as a natural menopause remedy.

Vitamin E

It has been suggested that vitamin E may help to reduce hot flashes and the best way of taking it, is in your diet.  Some foods rich in Vitamin E are:

Avocado
Peanut oil
Almonds
Hazelnuts
Tuna in oil
Sunflower oil

So, if you prefer to try natural menopause remedies yourself, be careful what you buy over the counter.  Although the label may state “natural” this does not necessarily mean safe. These products are not subject to the strict regulations which apply to other drugs.