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Menopause and Its Most Common Symptoms: 5 Key Nutrients and Natural Supplements for Menopause Support

Menopause and Its Most Common Symptoms: 5 Key Nutrients and Natural Supplements for Menopause Support

Menopause and Its Most Common Symptoms: 5 Key Nutrients and Natural Supplements for Menopause Support

 

Menopause – the loss or lack of a period for one or more years – is a natural symptom of aging in a woman. It most normally occurs anytime from the late 40s to early 50s.

Menopause causes several changes in the body and results in a variety of symptoms experienced by two-thirds of menopausal women. All of these symptoms are the result of decreased hormone (estrogen and progesterone) production from the ovaries. These can include anything from hot flashes and weight gain to vaginal dryness and atrophy. It also includes health risks like osteoporosis (bone loss) and osteomalacia (softening of the bones) or even heart disease (1).

However, menopause is not one-size-fits-all. Not all women will have the same experiences menopause. Some women will experience severe complications of menopause while others have more mild symptoms.

 

Top 4 symptoms and health risks associated with menopause

 Again, menopause is not one-size-fits-all, but there are several symptoms and health risks that occur commonly enough to be associated with this phase of the female aging process.

  1. Hot flashes

 Hot flashes tend to be the most common symptom to accompany menopause; occurring in 75% of menopausal women (1).

 Hot flashes can occur at any time of the day or night and are indicated by the body temperature rising. The skin will turn red and blotchy, sweating will occur, and heart palpitations or feelings of dizziness are also possible. 

  1. Weight gain

 Weight around the waist, hips, and thighs can occur during the menopause transition. And although midlife weight gain is also related to aging, lifestyle, and genetic factors, the hormone (estrogen and progesterone) fluctuation associated with menopause can contribute to weight change (2).

 Weight gain as a symptom of menopause may also lead to more serious health risks — high cholesterol, high blood pressure and insulin resistance (3).

  1. Arthralgia (muscle and joint pain)

 Though clinical studies have determined the connection difficult to pinpoint, muscle and joint pain is experienced by menopausal women (4). More than 50% of women have experienced an increase in arthralgia and chronic rheumatic conditions, such as osteoarthritis.

The women who have increased incidence of chronic pain have also been shown to have higher rates of fatigue, poor sleep, sexual dysfunction, and depression as well.

  1. Osteoporosis (bone loss)

The decline in estrogen production during menopause can affect mineralization of the bone. Amounts of calcium in the bones decrease, as does bone density, leading to osteoporosis (1). Many women experience accelerated bone loss the first few years after their last menstrual period.

This can increase likelihood of hip, spine, and other bone fractures.

Managing menopause through healthy choices

Though some symptoms of menopause are unavoidable, there are ways to reduce and control them to some degree.

Some treatment options are more intensive – hormone replacement therapy, for example – requiring the consultation of specialized medical professionals, but there are some simpler options that can be done on a daily basis.

These include getting regular exercise and drinking enough water, but most essential is eating a proper diet.

A proper diet for menopause doesn’t only mean consuming plenty of fruits and vegetables, but avoiding foods that can aggravate the symptoms of menopause – namely, hot flashes. These food include alcohol, caffeine, and spicy foods (3).

Food you want to focus on are those that contain vital nutrients to manage the most severe symptoms of menopause. Low-fat dairy products high in calcium (or dairy alternatives with supplemented calcium), foods containing healthy fats like omega-3’s, and foods high in Phytoestrogens like soy and decaffeinated tea (5).

 

5 essential vitamins and minerals for menopause

Looking more in-depth at nutrient needs during menopause, there are five natural vitamins and minerals that play an important role in supporting the body during this time of change:

 

  1. Vitamin E – Depression, heart disease, and weight gain are common symptoms associated with the stress caused by menopause. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps fit cell-damaging free radicals, reduce oxidation and inflammation, and eases stress (6).
  2. Vitamin B6 – As women age, serotonin production naturally drops. Fluctuating serotonin levels may be a contributing factor in the mood swings and depression common in menopause. Vitamin B6 (aka: pyridoxine) helps produce serotonin can help reduce these symptoms (6).
  3. Calcium – Bone loss from a declining estrogen production reduces the density of the bones, leading to osteoporosis and osteomalacia (1). Supplementing with extra calcium slows demineralization of bones and reduces likelihood of hip, spine, and other bone fractures. Calcium absorption is also amplified by increasing vitamin D supplementation (6).
  4. Folic Acid – The most common symptom of menopause is hot flashes leading to high levels of discomfort for most menopausal women. Clinical studies have found that supplementing with folic acid reduces the severity, duration, and frequency of hot flashes episodes (7). 
  1. Magnesium – Sleep disruption happens often during menopause. Progesterone production is reduced during menopause; progesterone is also a sleep-producing hormone. This can lead to difficulties falling asleep and staying asleep and/or mild insomnia. Magnesium may be able to assist with this issue, being an all-around sleep aid. It can also provide improvement with mood swings, irritability, anxiety, and bloating (8).

 

Supplements for menopause support

 

While the above five vitamins and minerals, plus several others, are essential for staving off or reducing symptoms of menopause to make them more manageable.

If you are having trouble maintaining a balanced diet or achieving the daily required intakes for any of the vital vitamins and minerals for menopause, supplements are also an option.

It’s important to use a trusted brand, and a supplement formulated specifically for menopause support. A natural supplement with an emphasis on the five key nutrients for menopause support is most beneficial, being effective at controlling hot flashes and maintaining estrogen levels.

As always, seek the advice of a trusted medical professional if you are taking a new supplement. Especially if you are already undergoing intensive therapies, like hormone replacement, for your menopause symptoms.

 

Author: Allison Lansman, RDN, LD

 

References

 

  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/menopause/menopause-facts
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/womens-health/in-depth/menopause-weight-gain/art-20046058
  3. https://www.eatright.org/health/wellness/healthy-aging/eating-right-during-menopause
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20537472
  5. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/menopause-diet#foods-to-eat
  6. https://www.healthline.com/health/menopause/vitamins-for-menopause
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4161099/
  8. https://thesleepdoctor.com/2018/02/13/sleep-supplements/
Women’s Change Natural Menopause Support

Buried Treasure Women’s Change Natural Menopause Support

  • Safe & effective natural menopause support. Helps reduce the frequency of hot flashes. 
  • Helps control night sweats. Helps maintain healthy estrogen levels.
  • All natural vegetarian safe ingredients

Allison Lansman is a Registered Dietitian (RD),

Allison Lansman is a Registered Dietitian (RD), freelance nutrition and health writer, and wellness blogger. She is the owner/operator of The Freelance RD writing service and blog. Her business provides mainly writing services, but also product development, educational services and brand partnerships.

As an RD, Allison embraces a modern approach to nutrition and wellness. She believes we benefit most from building positive, balanced connections between mind, body, food, and environment. And she is passionate about sharing that philosophy through wellness communication and writing.

Her educational background is through Iowa State University, where she completed both her undergraduate degree and dietetics internship. She is currently studying towards an Masters in Public Health.

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Para-Aminobenzoic Acid – PABA

Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) is an organic compound found in folic acid vitamin. It is therefore considered to be partially a member of the vitamin B-complex.  However, it is not really a vitamin but an amino-acid that is part of folic acid. It has the same chemical structure as sulphonamides .The para-aminobenzoil moiety of PABA renders it a vitamin B complex factor and a component of folacin as well. Other dietary sources that contain PABA include grains, milk, meat and eggs. It can be synthesized in the body hence considered a non-essential nutrient in humans. However, PABA despite being made by the body is not synthesized directly since we do not produce the necessary enzymes required for its formation. Instead intestinal bacteria such as Escherichia Coli in the intestines executes this task by utilizing the enzymes 4-amino-4-deoxychorismate lyase and 4-amino-4-deoxychorismate synthetase on chorismate. Plants also have the ability to synthesize PABA using chloroplasts .Nonetheless, PABA is used in the synthesis of folic acid which is an essential nutrient.

First, PABA is important for healthy hair and skin. It protects the hair follicles reducing the onset of wrinkles and keeping it smooth. Notably, the potassium salt of PABA is beneficial for the maintenance of a healthy skin and hair. It helps maintain a consistent skin tone with a soft texture. It prevents or reverses the accumulation of abnormal   fibrous tissues.  It is also protective against harmful ultraviolet light from the sun. It has the ability to absorb ultraviolet rays from the sun thus minimizing damage to the skin (Cholangitis).

Additionally, PABA together with pantothenic acid maintains the health and pigmentation of hair.  PABA has the ability to restore graying hair to its original color. Its effectiveness is improved when it is used in combination with inositol and pantothenic acid.

PABA influences energy production as it functions in the breakdown and utilization of proteins (PABA (Para-aminobenzoic acid): The Vitamin that functions in the breakdown and utilization of proteins and in the formation of blood cells, 2012). PABA is also beneficial in reducing fatigue and reversing the effects of depression. It also exerts anti-inflammatory effects by relieving pain and swelling. PABA also enhances the action and effects of some hormones such as estrogen, cortisone and others by delaying their metabolism in the liver.  This may be responsible for   its role in the maintaining of reproductive glands.

As a precursor of folic acid PABA is necessary for the synthesis of folic acid by gut bacteria that in turn stimulate the synthesis of B-5.  As such, PABA   is necessary in the formation of red blood cells.  The PABA biosynthetic enzymes that take part in the biosynthesis of folate include PabA, PabB and PAbC.

PABA also helps with the digestion process.  It acts as a coenzyme in various metabolic body processes that help support intestinal bacteria that are essential for proper digestion. It functions as a co-enzyme in amino-acid metabolism and red blood cell formation.  Human cells require folate cofactors to act as acceptor or donor one carbon units in the various biosynthetic processes that take place in the body such as the formation of purines and pyrimidine.  This also helps with its immunomodulating function. Since PABA is readily available from dietary sources and intestinal bacteria, nutritional deficiency of PABA is rare.  Nonetheless, PABA does not have a definite set recommended Daily Allowance.

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Folate and Folic Acid

folic acid folate b vitamins

Folate and Folic Acid

Folic acid is a member of the B-complex group.  It plays a key role in cellular metabolism, growth and energy production just like all the other members of B-complex. Folate occurs naturally in whole foods. Folic acid  being  one of the B vitamins found is found in dietary sources such as leafy green vegetables, fruits, dried beans and peas. It not only takes the form of water-soluble vitamin B, but also occurs in many different forms. In the body it exists in metabolically active derivatives of tetrahydrofolate (THF) such as 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF) (Rao, 2006).This is the main circulative form of folate that gives its action in the body. The structure of folic acid comprises a pteridine nucleus, p-aminobenzoic acid and glutamate. Although sensitive to light and acid, folic acid is stable to heat and alkali. Folic acid performs some of the most vital functions in the body ranging from cellular formation to energy production.

First, folic is crucial for neural tube formation during fetal development.  As such, defective folate metabolism interferes with the closure of the neural tube during development. Besides, deficiency during pregnancy triggers the development of neural tube defects (NTD), which include the malformations of the spine and brain. Taking of folic acid prior to conception has shown to reduce the risk of NTDs by up to 50-60 %. Notably, folic acid not only in the formation but also maintenance of new cells.  As it is, it also helps in the synthesis of DNA through nucleotides in rapidly dividing cells such as the bone marrow cells or erythropoietic cells or intestinal cells. Hence deficiency is associated with a low red blood cell count.

Another vital function of folic acid is that it also helps regulate the blood levels of homocystiene that has a therapeutic effect on cardiac function. As such, folic acid acts to reduce homocisteine levels improve vascular function by reducing the risk of hardening blood vessels. This helps in the maintaining of a healthy and efficient cardiovascular health.

Folic acid is also required for proper growth and development of the body as it is involved in the production of DNA and RNA. It not only synthesizes but also repairs and maintains stability of the formed DNA hence helping in growth and maintenance of muscle tissues as well. These are essential during states of rapid growth such as during pregnancy or puberty due to the increased physiological demands. Also, plays a key role in building and repair of skin cells in the body. Besides, it facilitates the replacement of senile cells with new ones keeping the skin fresh.

Folate also functions as a co-factor/co-enzyme thus influencing certain biological reactions in the body such as the DNA methylation. It acts in combination with other enzymes to perform crucial body processes such as DNA synthesis. Further, folic acid has as a free radical scavenging activity that is more efficient than that of vitamin C and E. This helps maintain the viability of cells as the scavenging action protects the body cells against cell membrane damage.

Folic acid is essential in cognitive function. It helps prevent the degeneration of the cerebral cortex, the area of the brain that coordinates learning and memory.  Its regulation of homocsyteine levels that is toxic to neurons also influences its action on the brain. Deficiency in folate is rare since it is only required in small amounts. Experimental animal studies have shown that folic acid deficiency results in growth retardation. It also manifests with low blood count that are abnormally large.