Helping With This Natural Phase for Older Women Menopause is a natural phase in a woman’s life and marks the end of her reproductive years. While it brings significant hormonal changes, it doesn’t have to be a time of discomfort or distress. By incorporating specific vitamins and supplements into their daily routine, women can manage the uncomfortable symptoms that come with menopause. Read on as we discuss the 10 best vitamins and supplements that can support women during this transitional phase. 1. Calcium and Vitamin D During menopause, there is a natural decrease in estrogen levels. This can lead to bone loss and increase the risk of osteoporosis. Calcium and vitamin D are crucial for maintaining good bone health. Calcium supports the formation and maintenance of strong bones, while vitamin D aids in calcium absorption. Dietary sources of calcium include dairy products, leafy greens and fortified foods. Vitamin D can be obtained through sunlight exposure and fortified foods, but supplements may be necessary to meet the recommended daily intake. 2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for overall health, especially during menopause. They have been shown to reduce inflammation, support heart health and improve mood. Additionally, they can alleviate menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and joint pain. Fish, particularly fatty fish like salmon and sardines, is an excellent source of omega-3s. Fish oil supplements are available that can help ensure optimal intake of these fatty acids. 3. B Vitamins B vitamins, including B6, B9 (folate) and B12, are crucial in maintaining energy levels and supporting emotional well-being. They can help combat fatigue, mood swings and memory lapses commonly experienced during menopause. Foods rich in B vitamins include whole grains, legumes, leafy greens, eggs and fortified cereals. Taking a B-complex supplement is also a good way of ensuring adequate intake. 4. Magnesium Magnesium is an essential mineral that supports many biochemical reactions in the body. During menopause, magnesium can alleviate mood swings, reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality. It has also been shown to aid in maintaining bone density and muscle function. Dietary sources of magnesium include nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains and leafy greens. Women who are concerned about a lack of magnesium in their diet can also take supplements to ensure optimal intake. 5. Black Cohosh This herbal supplement has been traditionally used to manage menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats and sleep disturbances. It is believed to mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. While research results are mixed, many women find relief while taking black cohosh. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any herbal supplement, as it may interact with certain medications or have side effects. [youmaylike] 6. Soy Isoflavones These plant compounds have a similar structure to estrogen. They are known as phytoestrogens and can help alleviate menopausal symptoms. Products such as tofu, soy milk and tempeh are rich sources of isoflavones, but there are also supplements available. 7. Vitamin E Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that can help alleviate menopausal symptoms, particularly hot flashes and vaginal dryness. It works by reducing oxidative stress in the body. Good dietary sources of vitamin E include nuts, seeds, spinach and broccoli. There are also supplements available if you are concerned about achieving adequate intake. 8. Probiotics Menopause can sometimes disrupt the balance of gut flora, leading to digestive issues and a weakened immune system. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that support digestive health and immune function. They help to alleviate bloating, gas and constipation and are available in fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut and kimchi. 9. Evening Primrose Oil Evening primrose oil is derived from the seeds of the evening primrose plant. These seeds are rich in gamma-linoleic acid (GLA), which is an omega-6 fatty acid, and have been found to reduce hot flashes, improve skin elasticity and relieve breast pain associated with menopause. Evening primrose oil is available in capsule form and should be used under the guidance of a healthcare professional. 10. Ginseng Ginseng, particularly the Panax ginseng variety, has been used in traditional medicine to alleviate menopausal symptoms. It may help reduce fatigue, improve cognitive function and enhance overall well-being. It is available as a supplement and should be used with caution as it can interact with certain medications and cause side effects in some individuals. Final Notes It's important to note that while vitamins and supplements can be beneficial during menopause, they should not replace a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. It's always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplements, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking medications. Incorporating essential vitamins and supplements into their daily routines can provide much-needed support for women during menopause. By understanding their unique needs and consulting with healthcare professionals, women can navigate this transformative stage with greater comfort and vitality.
Chemo Side Effects
Chemotherapy is a treatment used to kill rapidly growing cells in your body, and chemo side effects can occur. The cells in our body have a "self-destruct" mechanism, but sometimes they can lose this ability and continue to grow into what is known as a tumor. These tumors then compete with healthy cells for nutrients and oxygen, thereby destroying the body.
The downside of chemotherapy is that it does not distinguish between fast-growing cells of the body and tumor cells. This lack of distinction between these cells results in the common side effects of chemotherapy treatment. Some rapidly growing cells in the body include cells in the inner lining of the mouth, nails, hair, and even blood cells. These areas are often affected during the treatment process.
Why Would You Undergo Chemotherapy?
Aside from using chemotherapy as the only treatment option to kill cancer cells, it is also used:
- As an adjuvant treatment to kill cancer cells after surgery may have been done.
- To shrink the size of tumors to enable surgery or radiation to eliminate the rest. This is referred to as neoadjuvant treatment.
- It can also be used as a palliative measure to relieve you of the symptoms associated with cancer.
Chemotherapy treatment can be in the form of pills, creams, and injections, administered within the hospital or at home by an oncologist. It is advisable to have a family member drive you when you receive your first course because some people have reported feeling drowsy after receiving treatment.
During the treatment, you will be closely monitored through tests to know the effectiveness of the chemotherapy, and so the doctor can adjust it according to how you respond to it.
Common Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Due to the presence of rapidly dividing cells around the body and chemotherapy’s inability to separate them, the side effects affect multiple organs in the body. The most affected systems include the mouth, bone marrow, digestive tract, hair, and reproductive organs.
Chemotherapy reduces cells that provide immunity and protect you from infections. They also affect the red blood cells, which transport oxygen around your body, and the platelets, which stop you from bleeding out by forming a clot. All these manifest as:
- Body weakness
- Easy bruising
- Pale skin
- Getting sick more frequently
- Blood in stools and vomit
You may also experience side-effects in the mouth and digestive systems. For the mouth, these include reduced saliva production, painful sores in the mouth, on the lips, tongue, and gums, which make eating and swallowing difficult. The loss of healthy cells in your mouth will also cause altered taste sensations and a yellowish covering on the tongue, ultimately leading to weight loss. For the digestive systems, common side-effects include constipation, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. All of these can lead to weight loss and weakness.
Chemotherapy also affects the reproductive system and causes alterations in the hormonal levels of both men and women. Infertility can occur in both men and women from chemotherapy treatment, which could be temporary or permanent. Women experience altered periods, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, painful intercourse, an increased risk of vaginal infections, and early onset of menopause. Men experience reduced sperm count and libido.
Although individuals on chemotherapy treatment experience various symptoms, it does not hinder them from having healthy sex lives. Pregnancy is, however, discouraged in females because the toxicity of the medications could cause congenital disabilities.
The changes to your hair, nails, and skin often cause the most visible symptoms. These include hair loss or Alopecia from the head, eyebrows, lashes, hands, and legs. Thankfully, this effect is reversible after the last dose of chemotherapy. There could also be skin irritation, dryness, and rashes, as well as discoloration and brittleness of the nails.
Other side-effects of chemotherapy medications include swelling or tingling sensation in the limbs, reduced urination, generalized body pain, and weakness.
How To Manage the Side Effects
Preparation is essential, and this includes detailed instructions on the type of medications and dosages you’ll have. You’ll receive several tests on your liver, lung, heart, kidneys, and other organs to ensure that you are healthy enough to begin chemotherapy. Your dentist will also examine your teeth to ensure there are no active infections that could cause complications during the treatment.
Also, make sure to discuss possible side-effects ahead of time with your doctor so you can plan for them. Planning could include:
- Preserving your eggs or sperms in case of infertility.
- Having a head wrap or wig for hair loss.
- Avoiding stressful activities and exposure to germs
- Drinking lots of water to help relieve the digestion problems
- Maintaining good oral and general body hygiene to prevent infections
- Eating healthy meals including fruits and vegetables
- Your doctor may prescribe anti-nausea medication to prevent vomiting