"Soy is a fundamental component of the Asian diet and its prominence might help to explain why Asian women report fewer complaints related to menopause than Western women."
Menopause marks the end of a woman's reproductive years. It occurs when the female hormone, 'estrogen,' declines to a level that stops menstrual cycles. The reduction in estrogen causes symptoms that include hot flashes, insomnia and fatigue. The symptoms range from mild to severe. Some women use hormone replacement pills, patches, or creams to decrease the symptoms, although using over-the-counter vitamin supplements might also offer relief from these symptoms.
Getting Some Sleep: Some women experience insomnia during menopause and find it very difficult to sleep at night. At times this is because of hot flashes, at other times it is due to the imbalance in hormones. Taking vitamin B6 helps to balance sleep. Along with taking vitamin B6, introduce natural sleep inducers such as setting a time to sleep and a specific time to wake up.
Osteoporosis Prevention: As a woman ages her bones start to thin. The condition happens when bone is lost and not rapidly replaced. The loss of bone results in a condition known as, 'osteoporosis.' The only way to prevent the condition is to ensure you are consuming enough calcium. Taking a calcium supplement can help to prevent the condition, but you also need to take vitamin D to help absorb the calcium.Relief from Hot Flashes: When a woman's body starts producing less estrogen and progesterone, their hypothalamus, located in their brain, is unable to decide whether to make them hot or cold. Due to this, their blood vessels widen and then narrow, causing a sudden rush of heat to go through their body. Taking 400-800 IU of vitamin E each day can help to treat hot flashes. It might take 2-6 weeks to feel a difference.
Fighting Fatigue: Some women consistently feel tired during menopause. The first effort to make to reduce this feeling is to get plenty of sleep while avoiding stimulants before going to sleep. If you still find yourself unable to sleep after doing this, you can take a B-complex vitamin that contains vitamin B6 and B12. Both of these B vitamins help to regulate energy and sleep. Harvard School of Medicine recommends taking between 1.3mg and 1.5mg of vitamin B6 and 2.4mcg of vitamin B12.
Easing Mood Swings: During menopause, women many times feel as if their emotions are up and down. The emotions are a direct result of a reduction in estrogen and might cause a woman to feel happy one moment and sad the next. According to the Harvard Medical School, taking vitamin B6 helps with balancing out moods. The dosage recommended is 1.3mg for women under the age of 51 and 1.5mg for women who are over age of 51. The vitamin is available over-the-counter or may be included in a multivitamin or a B-complex supplement.
Natural Remedies for Menopause
Most natural remedies for menopause feature plant-based compounds called, 'phytoestrogens.' Phytoestrogens are estrogen-like chemicals that help to relieve the symptoms of menopause by binding with estrogen receptors on tissues located throughout a woman's body and exerting, 'weak estrogenic effects.' For hundreds of years, different traditional medical systems have used certain supplements and herbs to assist with relieving symptoms of menopause.
While these botanicals have been handed down from traditional Asian medicine, Native American herbal lore and Indian Ayurveda, modern scientists have investigated their effectiveness and safety. Some evidence of effectiveness and safety has been established for the supplements that follow.
Some pre-menopausal women experience symptoms more commonly associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS). One of the more troubling of these symptoms is breast tenderness. For centuries, folk medicine practitioners have used the berry of the chaste tree to treat these symptoms. Scientific evidence suggests that chasteberry or its extract might help to relieve this particular symptom of perimenopause.
Black CohoshBlack Cohosh is a Native American botanical remedy that might be helpful for six months or less for controlling hot flashes. A number of studies have been published, yet the use of black cohosh remains controversial among some doctors. Experts do agree that preliminary evidence is encouraging.
A large controlled study funded by the National Institutes of Health should settle the issues after the results are released. It is not clear how the buttercup family plant works to relieve hot flashes, although it might exert weak estrogenic activity - much like soy compounds, and help alleviate wild swings and sudden drop-offs in natural estrogen production.
Lignans are a class of compounds obtained through the diet from food sources that are rich in fiber, such as sesame and flaxseed. As with soy compounds, lignans are phytoestrogens. They become active in a woman's body after they are converted in the digestive tract to an active compound called, 'enterolactone.'
Higher levels of enterolactone have been associated with a reduction in the risk of breast cancer in women. One especially beneficial lignin is called, '7-hydroxymatairesinol (HMR) lignan,' and is extracted from Norway spruce trees. Along with significant breast cancer protection, HMR lignans might help improve blood lipid profiles in menopausal and post-menopausal women.
Soy is a fundamental component of the Asian diet and its prominence might help to explain why Asian women report fewer complaints related to menopause than Western women. Diet most likely also has a role in Asian women's lower rates of osteoporosis and breast cancer in comparison to Western women. Studies have shown that women with the highest consumption of soy have reduced experience of osteoporosis of the spine.
Osteoporosis is a potentially serious condition, one that affects many women during and after menopause. Their bones lose mineral content and become more brittle, increasing the likelihood of breaking. Soy contains phytoestrogen compounds called, 'isoflavones.' The two major soy isoflavones are, 'genistein,' and, 'diadzein.' Along with other soy compounds, these have been credited with helping to reduce the risk of certain cancers, preventing post-menopausal osteoporosis, reducing blood lipid levels, reducing the frequency and severity of hot flashes, while helping to prevent weight gain after menopause.
Several other dietary supplements might be useful to relieve certain symptoms of menopause. Depression; for example, is commonly experienced during menopause. Studies have shown that women with a higher intake of omega-3 fatty acids, easily obtained from fish oil, are less likely to experience depression. Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and in cases where antidepressant medication has been prescribed to treat depression, have been show to improve the effectiveness of pharmaceutical therapy. They may also alleviate mood-related symptoms such as anxiety and irritability.
The natural compound, 'S-adenosylmethionine (SAM-e),' is available in supplement form. Studies have linked use of SAM-e to lower rates of depression, as well as faster onset of effectiveness when taken with prescription antidepressants.
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