Managing Menopause Naturally with Vitamins for Women

Menopause is a normal biological process in a woman’s life, marking the natural transition between fertility and age-related non-fertility. Menopausal symptoms, in particular hot flushes and night sweats, can vary in their duration and severity and typically begin for women in their late 40’s to early 50’s, often leaving them hot and flustered.

Menopause, hot flushes and night sweats

Hot flushes and night sweats are caused by changing levels of hormones in the body, particularly declining oestrogen levels during the peri-menopause, menopause and the post-menopausal phases.

Peri-menopause is the period of time, usually 4-10 years, before the onset of menopause that tends to affect women in their early 40’s.

Menopause is defined as the cessation of menstruation for at least one year and usually occurs anywhere from around 45-55 years of age.

Post-menopause follows the menopausal phase where the ovaries stop producing oestrogen and while the adrenal glands and the conversion of androgens within fat cells produce small amounts of oestrogen.

As a woman approaches peri-menopause, declining oestrogen levels have a direct effect on the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that’s responsible for temperature control. Low levels of oestrogen trick the hypothalamus into believing the body is overheating. This triggers a cascade of biochemical processes to try and cool the body down by dilating blood vessels, resulting in hot flushes and night sweats.

Hot flushes and night sweats are the number one complaint for women experiencing menopause and are characterised by sudden, intense feelings of heat in the face, neck and arms

Excessive sweating

The frequency, duration and severity of hot flushes and night sweats varies greatly between women. Some women experience mild hot flushes and night sweats every now and then, while other women experience severe hot flushes and nights sweats all day and all night. Avoiding well-known triggers such as caffeine, alcohol, stress and excessive heat, can help to prevent hot flushes.

Top 5 herbs for hot flushes and night sweats

  1. Sage has been used for thousands of years and is traditionally used to relieve excessive sweating, night sweats and hot flushes associated with menopause.
  2. Pueraria (Kudzu), provides isoflavones (phytoestrogens), helpful in managingheat and dryness, improve libido throughout menopause and may help preserve bone health in postmenopausal women
  3. Chaste tree, also known as Vitex, helps support normal healthy hormone balance, helps relieve hot flushes and maintains healthy moods.
  4. Dong Quai may help relieve hot flushes and sleep disturbance in pre- and post-menopausal women.

These herbs have traditionally been used to help relieve a wide variety of menopausal symptoms, especially hot flushes, excessive perspiration, night sweats, sleeplessness, dryness, nervous tension, headaches, and joint and muscle pain.

Oestrogen Metabolism – the good, the bad and the ugly Vitamins and supplements for Men and Women

Our exposure to oestrogen begins in foetal development and too much oestrogen, or the wrong ratios of oestrogen, can lead to hormonal imbalances in both men and women. Supporting phase I and phase II liver detoxification processes can help support healthy metabolic pathways of oestrogen in the liver.

Oestrogen is a steroidal hormone produced from the building blocks of cholesterol and testosterone.

Oestrogen accelerates and stimulates cell growth in all oestrogen sensitive tissues and, while the majority of oestrogen is produced in the ovaries/testes, fat cells, adrenal glands, the liver and breast tissue can also produce oestrogen.

Symptoms of estrogen dominance:

Women:                                                                                     

  • PMS
  • Weight gain
  • Fibrocystic breasts
  • Fibroids
  • Endometriosis
  • Abnormal menstruation
  • Fatigue
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Breast tenderness
  • Mood swings
  • Brain fog
  • Insomnia

Men:

  • Enlarged breasts
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Infertility
  • Low libido
  • Increased Fat around the abdomen
  • Loss of muscle strength
  • Overly emotional

Xeno-oestrogens found in the environment

Xeno-oestrogens, also known as ‘endocrine disrupters’, are profound hormonal disruptors that mimic the activity of oestrogen in the body. Xeno-oestrogens can be found in our environment in pesticides, herbicides, drugs, fuels, perfumes, cosmetics, and plastics e.g. dioxins, phthalates andPCBs.

Controlling oestrogen

Healthy oestrogen levels are controlled and finely balanced by positive and negative feedback loops between the brain and the ovaries/testes. Excess oestrogen occurs when either too much oestrogen is produced, excess oestrogen is not cleared effectively from the body, or through exposure to xeno-oestrogens.

Phase I and phase II liver detoxification

One of the most important functions of the liver is to break down and remove excess hormones from your body.

Any impedance of the detoxification process can cause estrogen dominance. Just think of the guy with “man-boobs” who abuses alcohol. His liver function is impaired, and estrogen is excessive. The biology behind this example can be explained with the liver’s two-step detoxification process, which filters hormones and toxins in the bloodstream. In phase I, the liver converts substances into toxic free radicals before they are converted to a water-soluble form in phase II. If phase II isn’t operating sufficiently, the toxic free radicals build up. Both phases must be in balance so proper elimination of waste can occur.

Health hazards of excess oestrogen

High levels of circulating oestrogens or unhealthy oestrogen ratios can increase the risk of cellular proliferation, (cell proliferation is increased in tumours) so it’s important that oestrogens are broken down efficiently and effectively for elimination.

Certain herbs and nutrients, including Broccoli sprouts, Rosemary, St Mary’s thistle, quercetin and glutathione can all help to support phase I and phase II liver detoxification processes for healthy metabolism of oestrogen in the liver.

Talk to the Naturopaths and Natural Health Consultants at Go Vita Tanunda for professional advice.

IMPORTANT INFO ABOUT VITAMINS FOR KIDS, INTOLERANCES, FUSSY EATERS AND ALLERGIES

Fussy eaters and children with food allergies or intolerances provide a special challenge for many parents with these children at greater risk of developing nutritional deficiencies over time as their diet leaves out several important foods, robbing them of essential nutrients.

Problem foods for children

The food environment is something that parents can control, particularly when it comes to healthy eating and nutrition, and an occasional lapse in healthy eating will not harm your child. Children can be notoriously fussy eaters where they tend to refuse certain foods based on their taste, smell, texture, ease of chewing, colour and shape. They can like one food one moment, only to dislike it the next. Children with food allergies or intolerances to specific foods, including dairy, wheat and gluten, peanuts, eggs, nuts, soy or fish and shellfish, may find it difficult to obtain a wide variety of important nutrients.

4 common kids vitamin & mineral deficiencies

The amount and type of foods eaten determines your child’s daily nutrient intake. In Australia, children tend to be deficient in, or have low levels of:

Iron – healthy blood & energy

Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide and is a public health concern. A dietary iron deficiency leads to reduced red blood cell production. Red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen around your body and an iron deficiency leads to fatigue, shortness of breath and very pale skin. Children may be low or deficient in iron if they follow a vegetarian diet, experience a rapid growth spurt or have problems with digestive absorption. Iron is found in red meat, chicken, fish and legumes.

Zinc – healthy growth & development

Zinc deficiency is also very common in children and may lead to poor immunity, wound healing and growth and development, and problems with appetite due to impaired taste and smell. Zinc is found in beef, lamb, whole grains and baked beans.

Vitamin B12 – healthy blood & nervous system

Breastfed infants may not get enough vitamin B12 if their mothers have a vegetarian or vegan diet, or there are problems with absorption in the digestive tract, resulting in low levels of abnormally formed red blood cells or nervous system disturbances. Vitamin B12 is mostly found in animal proteins such as red meat, chicken, fish, cheese, milk and egg yolks.

Iodine – brain health & IQ

Iodine deficiency may be serious and lead to stunted growth, diminished intelligence and retardation. It’s the world’s number one cause of preventable intellectual disability in children. Iodine is found in saltwater fish, seaweeds and some commercially prepared foods such as bread and salt which are fortified with iodine.

 

A consultation with Go Vita Tanunda’s well known Naturopath, Peter Balogh can help determine specific intolerances and whether your child has any vitamin or mineral deficiencies with a non-invasive testing procedure.

AN ESSENTIAL SUPPLEMENT FOR VEGANS

Iron is an essential mineral, necessary to produce haemoglobin, which plays an important role in storing and transporting oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body, including the muscles for healthy muscle contraction.

There are two forms of dietary iron known as haem and non-haem iron:

Haem iron can be found in animal-based foods, including lean red meats, poultry and fish

Non-haem iron can be found in plant-based foods, including nuts, legumes, grains, fruits and vegetables

Iron levels are tightly controlled within the body, with levels regulated by absorption rather than excretion, and many factors can hinder the amount of iron absorbed within the gastrointestinal tract.

Iron absorption

Haem iron is more soluble and readily absorbed by the body when compared to non-haem iron. Non-haem iron is less soluble and poorly absorbed as it’s easily disrupted and inhibited by other dietary factors including tea, coffee, milk, wholegrains and chocolate. Combining foods rich in vitamin C with non-haem iron based foods, helps to solubilise and enhance the absorption of iron from the digestive tract. Haem iron is thought to have 2-3 times greater absorption than non-haem iron. Iron supplementation may be beneficial when dietary intake is inadequate, and deficiency is common in vegetarians, vegans, the elderly, and during infancy, adolescence and pregnancy.

Iron and B Vitamins – essential Vegan supplements

Some B vitamins, particularly vitamins B2, B6, B12 and folic acid, when combined with iron, provide important cofactors that help to maintain healthy blood in healthy individuals:

Vitamins B2 and B6 are important for the production of haemoglobin, which transports oxygen around the body in red blood cells

Vitamin B12 and folic acid are necessary for the production of red blood cells for oxygen transport

Vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid are necessary for oxygen transport in red blood cells

Types of iron

There are a number of organic (eg: ferrous bisglycinate) and non-organic (eg: ferrous sulphate) forms of non-haem iron available for supplementation. Ferrous sulphate is commonly prescribed medically, and while highly bioavailable, gastrointestinal irritation is common. Ferrous bisglycinate is also highly bioavailable and is well tolerated and gentle on the digestive system.

WHY CHOOSE CERTIFIED ORGANIC?

Did you know the term ‘organic’ isn’t regulated in Australia? The term is splashed across labels, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that a product is really organic! Organic Certification logos, like the Australian Certified Organic Bud logo, guarantees you’re buying a truly organic product.

CEO of Australian Organic, Australia’s leading organic industry body, Mr Paul Stadhams, encourages us to look for a certified organic logo whenever we buy organic – like the Australian Certified Organic (ACO) Bud logo. “The Bud logo is your 100 per cent guarantee that you are buying real, honest organic products that have been audited all along the production chain – from paddock to plate – to comply with strict organic standards.” ACO is one of seven certification bodies nationally. Owned by Australian Organic, ACO is now Australia’s largest certifier for organic and biodynamic produce and products, certifying in 16 countries and with auditors reviewing and maintaining over 17,000 products with the Bud logo. The ACO Bud logo means that product is cruelty-free, non-GMO, pasture fed, socially responsible, sustainably fished, biodiversity friendly and of course grown free from harsh synthetic pesticides, herbicides, hormones and antibiotics.  You can find it on a range of products from food and drinks to skincare, clothing, homewares, gardening, and pet food.

Why choose ORGANIC

Go Vita Tanunda give you 7 reasons to choose certified organic

  1. Good for the environment ACO works towards the future, focusing on organic, sustainable farming practices, land regeneration, and biodiversity protection.
  2. Certified organic products are the only true free range products Livestock must be 100 per cent free range to be certified organic. This means no caged chickens and no sow stalls. Animals must be given a high standard quality of life that allows them to perform natural social and physical functions.
  3. Certified organic food products are real Certified organic food is real food made without synthetic colourings, preservatives, additives or GM ingredients, items that can be linked with allergic reactions.
  4. If you can’t eat it, you shouldn’t put it on your skin! Skin products aren’t tested on animals and don’t use any synthetic colouring agents, fragrances, ethoxylated ingredients, silicones, paraffin or petroleum.
  5. No GMO Buying certified organic is the only way to know if a product is free from genetically modified organisms as there is no requirement in Australia to label GM ingredients.
  6. Be 100 per cent socially responsible. By buying Australian Certified Organic, you’re protecting workers’ rights.
  7. The Bud logo is a logo with integrity ACO has one of the strictest food regulatory programs in the world. Every ACO product has a certification number unique to the operator, allowing full traceability, and random audits and product testing ensure ongoing authenticity.

 

Adapted from Go Mag issue 44

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