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Top 5 Menopause Supplements

As you navigate through the challenges of menopause, you may be looking for natural ways to manage your symptoms and maintain your overall health. 

We’ve compiled a list of the top 5 most popular supplements that can help you tackle the most common menopausal symptoms, so you can feel your best during this transformative time.

The science behind each can be quite subtle, and some supplements are more beneficial than others. Some women swear by the positive effects, others find little to no benefit.

If you want to dive a little deeper, we run through the evidence and safety for each at the end of the article so you can better decide what might work for you.

1. Black Cohosh

If you’re struggling with hot flashes, night sweats, restlessness, or mood swings, black cohosh might be the solution you’ve been searching for. This well-known supplement has been praised for its effectiveness in providing relief from these common menopausal symptoms.

2. Soy Isoflavones

Soy contains special compounds called isoflavones, which mimic the effect of oestrogen in your body. By incorporating soy isoflavones into your diet or supplement regimen, you may find relief from various menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes and bone loss.

3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3s are not only beneficial for your heart health, which is especially important during menopause, but they can also help alleviate joint pain. These essential fatty acids possess anti-inflammatory properties and support brain health, helping you feel your best both physically and mentally.

4. Magnesium

Magnesium, particularly in the form of magnesium glycinate, can be a game-changer for many menopausal women. This essential mineral is involved in numerous bodily processes and can help improve heart health, reduce blood pressure, combat osteoporosis, and ease constipation. Additionally, magnesium may help calm anxiety, improve sleep quality, and reduce the frequency and intensity of hot flashes.

5. Vitamin D and Calcium

As you enter menopause, bone health becomes a significant concern due to the increased risk of osteoporosis. Vitamin D and calcium work together to support bone strength – vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, while calcium is essential for slowing bone loss. As oestrogen levels decline during menopause, the importance of these nutrients increases to help maintain bone density.

By incorporating these supplements into your daily routine, you can address the most common and impactful symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, joint pain, and bone health concerns. 

However, it’s always best to consult a specialist or doctor before starting any new supplement to ensure they are appropriate for your specific health needs and to avoid any potential interactions with medications you may be taking.

The Evidence

It can be difficult to sort through research papers and separate fact from fiction when reading online.

Below we review each supplement and the evidence supporting its use.

Black Cohosh

Overview and Efficacy

Black cohosh is a perennial plant native to North America, traditionally used for various conditions, including menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings. The root or rhizome of the plant is used in herbal preparations. Despite its popularity, the efficacy of black cohosh for menopausal symptoms has been a subject of debate. Research suggests that certain extracts of black cohosh may reduce some menopause symptoms, but the evidence is inconsistent. Most of the research has focused on a single extract called Remifemin, with other products showing inconsistent results.

Available Evidence

Two high-quality randomised controlled trials have investigated black cohosh for menopausal symptoms. One study from 2006 did not find a significant difference in the number and intensity of hot flashes and night sweats between herbal intervention groups and placebo, except at 12 months where symptom intensity was significantly worse in participants consuming a multibotanical preparation plus soy foods. Another trial from 2009 also explored its effects but the search results do not provide specific outcomes from this study.

Safety and Considerations

In clinical trials, black cohosh has been taken for up to 12 months without serious harmful effects. However, it can cause mild side effects such as stomach upset, cramping, and headache. There have been rare reports of liver damage, but it is uncertain whether black cohosh was responsible. People with liver disorders or symptoms of liver trouble should consult a healthcare provider before taking black cohosh.

Soy Isoflavones

Overview and Efficacy

Soy isoflavones are phytoestrogens that can mimic the effects of oestrogen in the body, potentially alleviating menopause symptoms like hot flashes and bone loss. They have a higher affinity for oestrogen β receptors and a weaker affinity for oestrogen α receptors, exerting organ-specific oestrogenic or anti-oestrogenic activity. Their consumption has been credited with lower rates of cardiovascular diseases and reduced vasomotor symptoms in populations with high soy intake.

Available Evidence

A systematic review suggested that isoflavones might be a reasonable alternative for women suffering from hot flashes who cannot or choose not to take hormone replacement therapy (HRT). However, the evidence is highly heterogeneous, making it difficult to draw firm conclusions. The North American Menopause Society suggested a trial-and-error approach to prescribing isoflavones, recommending discontinuation if there is no response after 12 weeks.

Safety and Considerations

Soy isoflavones are generally considered safe, with the main concern being their oestrogen-like effects, which may not be suitable for all women, especially those with hormone-sensitive conditions. The efficacy and safety of soy isoflavone supplementation in managing menopausal symptoms among different ethnicities and individual metabolic differences in processing soy isoflavones (like the conversion of daidzein to equol) also vary.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Overview and Efficacy

Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are known for their anti-inflammatory properties and potential benefits for heart and brain health. They are also investigated for their role in alleviating symptoms associated with menopause, such as joint pain, mood disorders, and vasomotor symptoms like hot flashes.

Available Evidence

A preliminary open trial involving 20 participants treated with omega-3 fatty acids for major depressive disorder (MDD) associated with the menopausal transition showed promising results. The study reported a significant decrease in the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) scores, indicating reduced depressive symptoms. Additionally, among participants experiencing hot flashes at baseline, there was a significant improvement in the number and severity of hot flashes. Another systematic review, including three randomised controlled trials with 483 women, found that omega-3 supplements could lower the frequency and severity of night sweats but did not significantly impact hot flushes, sleep quality, or quality of life.

Safety and Considerations

Omega-3 fatty acids are generally well-tolerated, with few adverse effects reported. The most common side effects include gastrointestinal discomfort and fishy aftertaste. It’s important to note that while omega-3 supplements can offer health benefits, they should be consumed in moderation and under the guidance of a healthcare provider, especially for individuals on blood-thinning medications due to potential interactions.

Magnesium

Overview and Efficacy

Magnesium plays a crucial role in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body, including those involved in muscle and nerve function, blood pressure regulation, and bone health. Magnesium levels can decrease during menopause, contributing to various symptoms such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular diseases, and vasomotor symptoms like hot flashes.

Available Evidence

Research on magnesium’s benefits for menopausal women is promising but not conclusive. Magnesium supplementation has been associated with improvements in bone health, cardiovascular risk factors, and alleviation of menopausal symptoms such as sleep disturbances and hot flashes. However, more studies are needed to fully understand its efficacy and optimal dosing for these conditions. An eight-week, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, randomised intervention trial involving postmenopausal women showed that magnesium supplementation resulted in significantly increased vitamin D levels, suggesting a synergistic effect that could benefit postmenopausal symptoms.

Safety and Considerations

Magnesium supplements are generally safe when taken at recommended doses but can cause adverse effects such as diarrhoea, abdominal cramping, and nausea at high doses. Individuals with kidney disease should exercise caution and consult a healthcare provider before taking magnesium supplements due to the risk of accumulating to harmful levels.

Vitamin D and Calcium

Overview and Efficacy

Vitamin D and calcium are essential nutrients for maintaining bone health, particularly during menopause when the risk of osteoporosis increases due to declining estrogen levels. Vitamin D facilitates the absorption of calcium from the diet, which is critical for bone formation and maintenance. Adequate intake of both nutrients is considered a cornerstone in the prevention of osteoporosis and related fractures in postmenopausal women.

Available Evidence

Clinical guidelines recommend vitamin D and calcium supplementation for the prevention of osteoporosis and fractures in postmenopausal women. A large body of evidence supports the role of calcium and vitamin D in maintaining bone density and reducing fracture risk. For instance, a randomized controlled trial involving postmenopausal women found that daily supplementation with calcium and vitamin D significantly reduced the rate of bone loss and the risk of fractures. Another study indicated that vitamin D supplementation alone might not be sufficient to prevent fractures unless coupled with adequate calcium intake.

Safety and Considerations

While supplementation with vitamin D and calcium is generally considered safe, excessive intake can lead to adverse effects. High levels of calcium can cause gastrointestinal symptoms and may be associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events, although the evidence is mixed. Vitamin D toxicity is rare but can occur with very high doses, leading to hypercalcemia and associated complications. It is important to adhere to recommended dosages and to have blood levels of vitamin D monitored if taking high-dose supplements.

Citations:

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3195360/

[2] https://www.verywellhealth.com/magnesium-for-menopause-5225584

[3] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30056356/

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7468838/

[5] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S030121151830335X

[6] https://www.naturesbest.co.uk/pharmacy/the-menopause/why-magnesium-is-essential-during-the-menopause/

[7] https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/15/19/4231

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4442087/

[9] https://womensmentalhealth.org/posts/research-from-the-cwmh-are-omega-3-fatty-acids-effective-for-menopausal-vasomotor-symptoms/

[10] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352364621000079

[11] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1744388120311142

[12] https://www.gennev.com/education/magnesium-the-superhero-of-menopause-supplements

[13] https://hellobonafide.com/blogs/news/the-benefits-of-fish-oil-for-women

[14] https://www.nutriadvanced.co.uk/news/magnesium-pms-and-menopause/

[15] https://www.barebiology.com/pages/guide-omega-3-fish-oil-menopause

[16] https://westlabsalts.co.uk/blogs/supporting-your-menopause/why-you-need-magnesium-during-menopause

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