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Vitamins & Minerals For Women In Menopause

Menopause is the transitional change in a woman's life when menstruation ceases. It is a natural occurrence, which marks the end of the reproductive years, just as the first menstrual period during puberty marked the start.

To address the symptoms and concerns about the increased risks of heart disease and osteoporosis some women have opted for hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

However worries about the links between HRT and breast cancer, or simply a belief that nature should take its own course, have motivated other women to try a natural approach.

Alternatives to HRT for dealing with the symptoms

Understand what's happening

Hormone levels fluctuate as menopause approaches

As women approach menopause the production of hormones by the ovaries starts to slow down. As this process accelerates, hormone levels fluctuate more and often a woman notices changes in her menstrual cycle, such as:

Eventually the hormone levels will fall to a level where menstruation (periods) will cease altogether and the menopause is reached.

Other symptoms

The most common symptoms are hot flushes and cold sweating. However, women sometimes experience other symptoms including:

What you can do to help

There are many aspects of your lifestyle and diet that you can alter to help improve the symptoms that can be associated with menopause. These include following a diet that will help to balance the hormones.

This diet consists of:

Supplements are beneficial during the menopause in order to ensure that you have adequate nutrients for maintaining healthy bones. Many of the following supplements are also known to help with the symptoms of the menopause.

A good quality multivitamin and mineral would form the foundation of your supplement programme to make sure that you are getting a 'little bit of everything'. Use the supplement programme below for at least three months and then re-evaluate your supplement needs. Some women need higher doses than are given below.

The herbs: Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa), Dong quai (Angelica sinensis), Ginseng, Siberian (Eleutherococcus senticosus) and Licorice (Glycrrhiza glabra) can help to control the hot flushes and other symptoms.

Regular exercise, at least 30-45 minutes most days of the week will:

If you smoke cigarettes try to give up. Cigarette smoking is related to hot flushes.

Special Note

You should not take any of the above herbs if you are taking, the contraceptive pill, fertility drugs, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or any other hormonal treatment, unless they are recommended by your health professional.

Scientists have begun to study the benefits of a group of plant hormones known as phytoestrogens. These hormones naturally occur in certain foods such as soya. Soya contains two flavonoids, genistein and daidzein, and studies have shown that they are chemically similar to Tamoxifen, which is the drug used to prevent a recurrence of breast cancer.

HRT, used for five or more years, may increase your risk of breast cancer. Try to find relief from yoursymptoms and some peace of mind with vitamin and mineral supplements and herbs.

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References

Baird, D.D, Umbach, D.M, Landsedell, L, et al.1995, Dietary Intervention Study to Assess Estrogenicity of Dietary Soy Among Postmenopausal Women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 80:168590.

Bland, J. 1996, Contemporary Nutrition. J & B Associates.

Cassidy, A, Bingham, S, and Setchell, K.D. 1994, Biological Effects of a Diet of Soy Protein Rich in Isoflavones on the Menstrual Cycle of Premenopausal Women. Am J Clin Nutr 60:33340.

Crawford, A.M. 1996, The Herbal Menopause Book. Freedom, CA: Crossing Press.

Davies, S. and A. Stewart., 1997, Nutritional Medicine. Pan.

Greenberg, G, Thompson, S.G, and Meade TW. 1987, Relation Between Cigarette Smoking and Use of Hormonal Replacement Therapy for Menopausal Symptoms. J Epidemiol Community Health 41:269.

Hirata, J.D, Swiersz, L.M, Zell, B, et al. 1997, Does Dong Quai Have Estrogenic Effects in Postmenopausal Women? A Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Trial. Fertil Steril 1997;68:9816.

Holden, S., Hudson, K., Tilman, J. & D. Wolf, 2003, The Ultimate Guide to Health from Nature. Asrolog Publication.

Hudson, T.S, Standish, L, Breed, C, et al. 1997,Clinical and Endocrinological Effects of a Menopausal Botanical Formula. J Naturopathic Med (1):737.

Knight, D.C, and Eden, J.A. 1996, A Review of the Clinical Effects of Phytoestrogens. Obstet Gynecol 87:897904 [review].

Nestel, P.J, Pomeroy, S, Kay, S, et al. 1999, Isoflavones from Red Clover Improve Systemic Arterial Compliance but not Plasma Lipids in Menopausal Women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 84:8958.

Pressman, A. and S. Buff, 2000, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vitamins and Minerals. (2nd Ed.) Alpha Books.

Soothill, R. 1996, The Choice Guide to Vitamins and Minerals. A Choice Book Publication.

Staropoli, C.A, Flaws, J.A, Bush, T.L, and Moulton, A.W. 1998, Predictors of Menopausal Hot Flushes. J Womens Health 7:114955.

Sullivan, K. 2002, Vitamins and Minerals: A Practical Approach to a Health Diet and Safe Supplementation. Harper Collins.

Tice, J.A, Ettinger, B, Ensrud, K, et al. 2003, Phytoestrogen Supplements for the Treatment of Hot Flushes: The Isoflavone Clover Extract (ICE) Study: A Randomized Controlled Trial. JAMA 290:20714.

Trattler, R. 1987, Better Health Through Natural Healing. Thorson Publishing Group.

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Most women reach menopause between the ages of 45 and 55, the average being around 50. It is a result of failure of the ovaries to produce estrogen and progesterone. However, for five to ten years before a women has her last menstrual period she may experience a range of menstrual irregularities and other symptoms.