Essential Vitamins Needed During Menopause

Research in the past decade has revealed that ‘hormone replacement therapy’ treatments come with a host of elevated risk factors.  Due to this fact, health care professionals (now) only recommend patients with severe symptoms for HRT and then, only for a relative short period.  Most frequently, this treatment is prescribed in an effort to balance hormone levels and to treat hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood swings, night sweats, and to help prevent osteoporosis, and other symptoms commonly associated with menopause.

However, even brief exposure to HRT can increase the risk of breast cancer, heart attack, and stroke.  Thus, it becomes very important for potential HRT candidates to consult with their specialist so that one clearly understands the ramifications and risk factors involved.

Not all risks associated with HRT are life-threatening.  In addition to the aforementioned threats, additional side effects include bloating, cramps, appetite changes, and breast tenderness. HRT can also prevent caffeine from breaking down in the digestive system.  Therefore, caffeine laden foods and beverages should be eliminated during HRT treatment periods.

Also, HRT has been shown to deplete essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, vitamin B-2, vitamin B-6, folic acid, vitamin B-12, magnesium, and zinc. 

What purpose do these essential nutrients perform?

  • Vitamin C depletion has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, muscle and joint pain, cataracts, and osteoporosis.
  • Reduced levels of vitamin B-2 can cause fatigue, cataracts, migraines, and thyroid disease.
  • Vitamin B-6 depletion has been associated with carpal tunnel syndrome, migraine headaches, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and asthma.
  • Reduced folic acid and vitamin B-12 levels have been shown to cause high levels of a chemical called homocysteine (an amino acid metabolite). When elevated, homocysteine is a risk factor for osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and Alzheimer's. In addition, low levels of folic acid and vitamin B-12 are related to fatigue, anemia, and depression.
  • Magnesium plays a powerful role in more than 300 chemical reactions in the body. Inadequate magnesium levels have been associated with osteoporosis, high cholesterol, diabetes, depression, muscle and joint pain, heart arrhythmias, and fatigue.
  • Zinc is also an extremely important mineral and responsible for more than 200 chemical reactions in the body. Low zinc levels can be linked to osteoporosis, arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, psoriasis, and acid-base balance disorders.
  • Calcium deficiency has been linked to menopause and hormonal imbalance.  Vitamin D and Magnesium are essential for the assimilation of calcium.  The recommend allowances are 1000 units of natural vitamin D, 500 milligrams of magnesium and two grams of calcium.
  • 50-100 IU of vitamin E is the recommended daily allowance.

The above noted vitamins and minerals are essential to good health and especially so during menopause.  Many doctors may fail to fully discuss the depletion of these important vitamins and minerals during HRT treatment.  If you are considering HRT, be sure to broach the topic with your health care professional, and to discuss the potential side effects.

You may want to work with a nutritional specialist during HRT to insure that you are getting the most benefit from the treatment and to minimize nutrient losses.

Even with these precautions, HRT candidates need to evaluate the potential benefits against the elevated risk factors.  HRT is not for everyone and other safe and effective means of combating symptoms associated with menopause are available.