Vitamins: Menopause Symptom Relief Not Only From Herbs
This article will give you information about which vitamins and minerals are important during menopause. Did you know that some vitamins are stored in the body and that it can be harmful if you take too much of certain vitamins?
Only you can make a decision if you need to add any vitamins or if your diet and lifestyle provide adequate resources. In general, women in menopause may require additional amounts of vitamins A, B, C and E, plus Calcium.
Which Menopause Vitamins Are Important For Your Symptoms?
|The body needs 13 vitamins for proper functioning:
A, C, D, E, K and the B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 and folate).
We hear more and more that vitamin E supplements can help with hot flashes. But other vitamins are equally important for your menopause symptoms.
Menopause Vitamins: “E”
Some women have reduced hot flashes when they take vitamin E. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and important for skin health, the heart and the immune system. (You can even use it topically as a vaginal lubricant.)
Vitamin E is fat soluble and is stored in the body. This means that too much vitamin E can have negative health consequences as was reported in several recent studies (bleeding, heart disease).
Food sources of vitamin E are eggs, nuts, seeds and leafy green vegetables (spinach, kale, Swiss chard). Vegetable oils and wheat germ also contain vitamin E.
A recommended level for menopausal women is 400 – 600 IU / day. Some negative effects were reported in doses over 1,000 IU. The highest safe level of Vit E from supplements for adults is 1,500 IU/day for natural forms of vitamin E and 1,100 IU/day for the synthetic form.
People with different health conditions need different amounts. For example, women with high blood pressure should take less vitamin E (no more than 100 IU). Talk to your healthcare provider before taking vitamins E or K or if you take an anti-coagulant or anti-platelet medication or have any underlying health problems.
Menopause Vitamins: “B Complex”
The B vitamins are essential for good metabolism, skin and muscle tone.They support the nervous system and help women deal with the stress ofmenopause. Some women report that Vitamin B helps to reduce breast tenderness and bloating.
Most B vitamins are water soluble, which means they are not stored in the body and you need to take them at a regular basis. (As the B complex consist of many different vitamins, we are not listing recommended amounts but give you a link for more information at the end of the page.)
The B complex consists of the following:
- B1 -Thiamine
- B2 -Riboflavin
- B5-Pantothenic acid
- B9-Folic acid or folate
- B12- Cobalamin
Some of the vitamins in the B complex can have side effects or can be harmful in extreme doses (Niacin and Pyridoxine).
Vitamins from the B complex are best consumed as part of your diet but most of these vitamins are lost during food processing and cooking.
Good sources of B complex vitamins are unprocessed cereal grains, meat, poultry, eggs, fish, milk, legumes and fresh vegetables. Some foods are fortified with certain B vitamins (i.e. Niacin).
Reported cancer benefits of B vitamins appear to be linked to a healthy diet, not to taking Vit B supplements.
Look for a menopause vitamin such as Rainbow Light Complete Menopause Vitamin on Amazon.
Some of these special vitamins also contain Black Cohosh and other herbs to help with your symptoms.
Menopause Vitamins: “C”
Vitamin C is important for your skin, bones, and tissue. It promotes healing and helps the body absorb iron. Vitamin C is essential for the body to produce collagen. Collagen is an important protein in the skin and other connective tissue. Like Vitamin E, some women report reduced hot flashes when they use vitamin C.
Vitamin C is a major antioxidant and helps the body to get rid of free radicals. These are the substances that not only cause heart disease but also cancer and aging. The body does not store vitamin C and it needs to be replenished regularly.
Good sources of Vitamin C are citrus fruits, kiwifruit, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli and peppers.
There is some indication that a diet high in vitamin C rich fruits and vegetables helps fight off cancer (probably because of the antioxidant effect). However, taking a vitamin C supplement does not provide the same cancer fighting effect.
Excessive amount of vitamin C can lead to stomach problems and in some people kidney stones. It also causes the body to absorb too much iron. Vitamin C supplements can interact with cancer treatments.
Recommended for menopausal women is about 400 – 1,000 mg/ day.Maximum dose is no more than 2000 mg.
Menopause Vitamins: “D”
Vitamin D is important for bone and muscle health, cell growth and the immune system. Most of it is produced by the body through the skin when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Although only a few foods contain it, many foods are fortified with Vitamin D. For example, most milk in the U.S. is fortified with 100 IU/cup, but you will also find it in cereals, yogurt and orange juice.
With the increased use of sunscreens, the amount of vitamin D from sun exposure is declining. It is important to get adequate amount of this vitamin for long term bone health. Insufficient levels of vitamin D can lead to muscle weakness and fatigue and, most important, osteoporosis.
If you take calcium, take a supplement that also contains vitamin D. Otherwise the calcium can’t be absorbed properly. There is also aninteraction with vitamin K. High intakes of vitamin D but low intakes of vitamin K may lead to an increased risk of hip fracture.
Too much Vit D can have side effects and negative health consequences such as nausea, constipation, weakness, heart rhythm problems and deposits of calcium and phosphate in soft tissues.
Vitamin D can interact with several medications such as anti- inflammatory or cholesterol lowering drugs. If you take prescription medications talk to your doctor or pharmacist about your vitamin D requirements.
Daily recommended amount is 600 IU/day for adults which should be increased for women in their 70s to 800 IU/day. Upper limit is 4,000 IU.
Menopause Vitamins: “K”
An adequate level of vitamin K is important for women throughout their menopausal transition. Vitamin K helps calcium absorption into the bones (together with Vit D) but helps to remove calcification of the arteries. It is also essential for blood clotting and wound healing. Vitamin K has two forms:
- K1, found in leafy green vegetables
- K2 found in meat, cheese and yogurt
|High intakes of vitamin D but low intakes of vitamin K were suggested to pose an increased risk of hip fracture|
As we get older, the absorption of vitamin K diminishes. Women who have problems with heavy bleeding during peri-menopause may also be deficient in vitamin K.
Vitamin K1 is found chiefly in leafy green vegetables such as spinach, Swiss chard, and brassica (e.g. cabbage, kale, cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts). Some fruits such as avocado, kiwifruit and grapes are also high in vitamin K and it is found in green tea. By way of reference, two tablespoons of parsley contain 153% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin K.
Based on new research, some doctors recommend 150 mg of menaquinone-7 (MK-7) form of vitamin K2.
Menopause Vitamins: “A”
Vitamin A is important for good vision, skin, bone and cell health as well as for the proper function of your immune system. Many foods are fortified with Vit A (fat free milk, cereals) and most adults consume enough Vit A in their daily diet. But some people require higher levels with the advice and supervision of their doctors.
Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin that is stored in the liver, and too much of it can be harmful. It is found in animal or plant sources:
- Animal Sources: Liver, Milk, cheese, egg yolk -Liver has the highest concentration of Vit. A
- Plant Sources: Carrots, Spinach, Kale, Cantaloupe Apricots, Papaya, Mango, fortified Oatmeal.
There are 563 identified carotenoids, but only a few are converted into Vit A. Some of the Carotenoids are found in plants and do not have direct vitamin A activity. However they have other important health benefits such as the prevention of cancer (i.e. lycopene as found in tomatoes) and eye diseases (Lutein and Zeaxinthin) People with higher alcohol consumption require more vitamin A.
Vit A toxicity (either because of taking too high a dose short term, or high prolonged use) can result in liver abnormalities, reduced bone mineral density (risk of osteoporosis) and central nervous system disorders. To much Vit A prevents the proper function of Vit D.
Recommended intake for Vitamin A: 2000 IU daily (about 700 mcg) but no more than 3000 IU.
What About Calcium and Other Minerals?
Minerals are, just like menopause vitamins required for the body to function properly. Mineral deficiencies are rare in industrialized nations but certain health conditions may require additional mineral supplementation.
During pre-menopause women may need additional iron if they experience heavy bleeding. And all women should get the maximum amount of calcium to avoid osteoporosis.
The top of the list of minerals for menopause women is calcium. Calcium is important for healthy bones and for the prevention of osteoporosis.
99% of the calcium in the body is stored in your bones and teeth. The remaining 1% is needed for the proper function of neurotransmitters, muscles and heart.
If you take calcium supplements limit the amount to 600 mg at a timebecause the body decreases the absorption rate if the amount of calcium increases. It is better to take smaller amounts and spread them over the day.
Calcium absorption also increases when it is taken with food. Vitamin D is essential for the proper absorption of calcium.
If you consume a lot of coffee (more than 4 cups a day) your calcium requirements are higher. Coffee, either caffeinated of decaf, leaches calcium from your bones at a high rate. Women who are heavy coffee drinkers are twice as likely to develop osteoporosis as non-coffee drinkers.
The recommended amount of calcium for women in menopause is 1,000 – 1,500 IU/day.
There are two main kinds of calcium common in supplements:
- Calcium carbonate
- Calcium citrate
Calcium carbonate is a low cost option and the most common of all forms of calcium. Some people experience gastro intestinal discomfort and gas with calcium carbonate. It needs to be taken with food for good absorption.
Calcium carbonate is prevalent in antacids and many people take antacids not just for indigestion but also as an inexpensive way to get additional calcium. The downside is, that the low PH in the stomach, as a result of the antacid, prevents proper absorption of the calcium.
Calcium citrate can be taken without food and it more easily digested. It is less likely to lead to kidney stones in people who are susceptible to the formation of kidney stones.
A Word about Chromium
Chromium is an essential mineral but you need only small amount of it. Chromium enhances the function of Insulin. Insulin transports the glucose (sugar) from the blood to the cells to provide them with the necessary energy.
However, many women develop “insulin resistance” due to many years of pour dietary habits and lack of exercise. Insulin resistance can lead to Type II diabetes. It is also the key reason for constant food cravings, lack of energy and weight gain around the middle.
Chromium naturally occurs in many foods. Foods high in natural chromium are brewer’s yeast, whole grain breads and cereals, and broccoli. Natural chromium is stripped from food during processing, and the typical American diet is very low in chromium.
Chromium supplements are often combined with another substance to help with the absorption into the blood stream. Common are chromium picolinate, chromium polynicotinate, chromium chloride.
Warnings about Chromium picolinate: Chromium picolinate, is a supplement that claims to help with weight loss, to decrease appetite and to increase energy levels – claims that have made chromium picolinate a very popular ingredient in many weight loss supplements.
More and more warnings emerge not only about the claims but also about the safety of chromium picolinate. Some studies have shown that taking Chromium picolinate without exercising can actually INCREASE the weight – not what people want when they buy expensive miracle weight loss pills. Some other side effects have been reported as well.
Do not take chromium supplements for the sole purpose of weight loss. If your diet consists of mostly processed foods and you have signs of insulin resistance, consider adding a chromium supplement or brewer’s yeast. (Better: serve some broccoli and have a beer.)