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Menopause (cont.)

Herbs and Supplements for Menopausal Symptoms

  • Black cohosh (Remifemin) is a commonly used herbal supplement that is believed to reduce hot flashes. However, small German studies that tested black cohosh only followed women over a short time period. The German agency that regulates herbs does not recommend using black cohosh for longer than six months. Side effects can include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, visual problems, slow heartbeat, and excessive sweating. Black cohosh is not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, so women must be careful about the safety and purity of this supplement.
  • Plant estrogens (phytoestrogens) such as soy protein are a popular remedy for hot flashes, although data on their effectiveness are limited. Phytoestrogens are natural plant estrogens (isoflavones), which are thought to have effects similar to estrogen therapy. The safety of soy in women who have a history of breast cancer has not been established, although clinical studies indicate soy is no more effective for treating symptoms than a placebo. Soy comes from soybeans and is also called miso or tempeh. The best food sources are raw or roasted soybeans, soy flour, soy milk, and tofu. Soy sauce and soy oil do not contain isoflavones.
  • Herbals: Inconclusive and conflicting studies indicate that other herbals, such as dong quai, red clover (Promensil), chasteberry (Vitex), yam cream, Chinese medicinal herbs, and evening primrose oil, should be avoided or taken with care under the supervision of a health care professional to avoid unwanted and dangerous side effects and interactions.
  • CAM: According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, other nonprescription techniques may relieve the symptoms of menopause. These techniques include meditation, acupuncture, hypnosis, biofeedback, deep breathing exercises, and paced respiration (a technique of slow breathing using the stomach muscles).

Do I Need To Take Calcium Supplements During Menopause?

Menopause cannot be prevented; however, steps can be taken to help reduce the risk factors for other problems associated with menopause. It is recommended that postmenopausal women consume 1200 to 1500 mg of elemental calcium (total diet plus supplements if necessary, and 800 Units of vitamin D daily.

The least expensive way to obtain calcium is through diet. Diet can easily provide 1,000-1,500 mg of calcium daily. The following foods contain calcium:

  • One cup of milk (regular or fat-free/skim) - 300 mg
  • One cup of calcium-fortified orange juice - 300 mg
  • One cup of yogurt (regular or fat-free) - about 400 mg on average
  • One ounce of cheddar cheese - about 200 mg
  • Three ounces of salmon (including the bones) - 205 mg

Dietary calcium supplements are a good option for women who cannot consume adequate calcium through diet. Calcium carbonate (Caltrate 600, Caltrate 600 Plus D, Caltrate Plus) is the least expensive, although some women complain of bloating. Calcium citrate may be better absorbed by women who take acid-blocking medications, such as ranitidine (Zantac) or cimetidine (Tagamet).

Calcium products made from bone meal, dolomite, or unrefined oyster shells may contain lead and should be avoided. Products with "USP" on the label meet the voluntary quality standards set by the United States Pharmacopeia and are more likely not to contain harmful contaminants.

Women should carefully read the label of calcium supplements to check the exact number of milligrams of elemental calcium in each supplement. The intestinal tract generally does not absorb more than 500 mg of elemental calcium at a time, so calcium intake should be spread out during the day.

Women should not take excessive doses of calcium due to the risk of kidney stones. Women with certain medical conditions, such as sarcoidosis or kidney stones, should consult their health care professionals prior to taking calcium supplements.

Vitamin D plays an important role in calcium absorption, but megadoses should be avoided.

REFERENCE:

Kovacs, P. MD. "Treatment Options for Menopausal Symptoms." Medscape. Updated: Jul 23, 2014.
<http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/828482>


Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/29/2017

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