During perimenopause and menopause, your body requires certain vitamins and minerals that weren't as vital during other times of your life. Because your body is changing significantly throughout the perimenopausal period, you’ll need to pay special attention to your specific nutrient needs. Consult your doctor before taking any vitamins, minerals or other supplements to discuss the safety issues and correct dosages.
Perimenopause is the period in a woman’s life when her body transitions from regular menstrual and ovulation cycles to menopause, when she becomes permanently infertile. During this time, you might experience irregular menstruation, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, insomnia and other common symptoms. The perimenopausal period can vary in length among women, but it generally ends when you haven’t menstruated for 12 consecutive months. Due to the drastic hormonal changes occurring in your body during perimenopause and menopause, you’ll be at a higher risk for osteoporosis and heart disease post-menopause.
Your nutrition is vital during perimenopause and menopause, so you should strive to eat a healthy diet consisting of high-fiber, low-fat foods. You may also need to take a vitamin D supplement to help prevent bone loss and osteoporosis. A typical dosage of vitamin D is 400 to 900 international units, or IU, per day. Taking a vitamin E supplement could also help ease menopausal symptoms, notes the University of Michigan Health System. The suggested dosage of vitamin E is usually 800 IU per day. Finally, taking a vitamin C supplement could help reduce your hot flashes during perimenopause and menopause. Discuss these vitamins with your physician before taking any of them in supplement form.
One of the most important minerals that your body needs during perimenopause, menopause and post-menopause is calcium, according to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. This is because calcium plays a vital role in bone density. You might take 1,200 to 1,500 mg of calcium each day, preferably along with your vitamin D supplement. You might need to divide the calcium supplements into multiple doses throughout the day, because generally your body cannot absorb more than 500 mg of the mineral at one time. Another important mineral for perimenopausal women is boron, which can influence your estrogen metabolism. In some women, boron supplementation can worsen menopausal symptoms like night sweats and hot flashes, but it can relieve the symptoms in other women. Talk with your healthcare provider before taking boron or other mineral supplements.
In addition to certain vitamins and minerals, other dietary supplements may provide certain health benefits during perimenopause. You could take supplements of soy isoflavones, flaxseed or flaxseed oil, omega-3 fatty acids like fish oil, or the herb black cohosh. Progesterone, flavonoids like hesperidin and dehydroepiandrosterone, or DHEA supplements could also help. Regular exercise can help improve your mood, bone strength and sleep, as well as prevent weight gain during perimenopause. Stress-reduction practices like yoga and meditation could provide benefits as well. No conclusive, widely-accepted medical research supports the use of any natural or herbal supplements to treat menopausal symptoms.
Beware that certain vitamins, minerals and other natural supplements can sometimes cause side effects and drug interactions. For example, soy isoflavones and the lignans in flaxseeds are plant-derived substances with estrogenic effects, called “phytoestrogens,” which could stimulate cancer-cell growth in estrogen-sensitive cancers, warns the University of Maryland Medical Center. Therefore, these types of supplements may be unsafe if you’re at risk for or have hormone-sensitive breast, ovarian or uterine cancer. Phytoestrogens can also increase your risks for other hormone-sensitive diseases like endometriosis and uterine fibroids, and they can increase your estrogen levels excessively if you’re also taking oral contraceptives, hormone therapy, tamoxifen or other medications that increase your estrogen levels.
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