Research concerning vitamin E and menopause began in the forties. Because of the health risks associated with hormone replacement therapy, there has been an increased interest in menopause and nutrition over the last several years.
Reports from the Women’s Health Initiative in 2002 caused a significant drop in the number of women who choose hormone replacement. These studies found an increased incidence of blood clots and stoke among women using hormone replacement therapy for several years. Hormone replacement is also associated with an increased risk of breast and uterine cancer. The only clear health benefit is an improvement in bone density, but this health benefit does not outweigh the risks.
Women still have need for relief from unwanted symptoms associated with menopause. There is a long list of dietary supplements, botanicals and herbal remedies that may be effective. Results of research focused on vitamin E and menopause, as well as other nutritional supplements, have been mixed. Some studies indicate that these supplements are promising, while others found little or no benefit.
One of the primary focuses of research concerning menopause and nutrition is the prevention of osteoporosis. Increased calcium intake is typically recommended, but calcium supplementation alone is probably not enough. Vitamins and minerals work together. The body cannot effectively absorb calcium without an adequate supply of vitamin D. Magnesium, co-enzyme Q-10 and other trace elements are also needed and often lacking from the average American diet. Exercise also plays a role in calcium absorption, as does estrogen.
When it comes to vitamin E and menopause, the most recent study by the Mayo clinic regarding the vitamins affect on hot flashes in women being treated for breast cancer. After nine weeks of dosing with 800IU per day, the study concluded that the degree of relief achieved was not significantly different from that of placebo. Study after study has shown that vasomotor symptoms (hot flashes and night sweats) are relieved by about 20% in women taking a placebo or an inactive compound. Studies typically compare results to this placebo effect. In order for the majority of experts to recommend a treatment, it must be more effective than this “placebo effect”.
While vitamin E is a necessary anti-oxidant and is important for the proper function of nerves and muscles, a good daily multi-vitamin typically contains more than adequate amounts of this vitamin. The USRDA to prevent deficiency is much lower than the 800IU used in the above study. Taking this vitamin at dosages greater than 400 units per day on a long term basis can cause blurred vision, diarrhea, dizziness, headache, nausea, stomach cramps and weakness or fatigue.
Good nutrition is important throughout a woman’s life. An easy transition through menopause and nutrition go hand in hand, but even with a healthy diet, regular exercise and overall healthy lifestyle, some women still have unwanted symptoms. Studies concerning vitamin E and menopause do not indicate that this vitamin is all that a woman needs to prevent these symptoms. Studies have shown that other dietary and herbal supplements are more likely to be effective.
Patsy Hamilton was a health care professional for over twenty years before becoming a freelance writer. Currently she is writing a series of articles on women's health issues. Read more at http://www.menopause-and-pms-guide.com
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