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.
Side Effects of Radiation for Breast Cancer
Around 13% of women in the United States will develop an aggressive form of breast cancer. Although this looks alarming, breast cancer can be treated in many ways. Radiation therapy is one of them, but there are side effects of radiation for breast cancer. What is radiation therapy, and is it effective and safe? This article will explain what it is, why it is used to help treat breast cancer, what the most common side effects are, and how you can manage them.
What is Breast Cancer?
Cancer is a disease wherein the cells lose regulations in cell division and continuously replicate. This uncontrolled growth and division of cells form a mass which is known as a tumor. Breast cancer occurs when these abnormal cells are found in the breast. The most common cells affected are the lining of the milk ducts. Usually, a mass is felt in the breast, but invasive breast cancer can spread through the blood or the lymphatic system and be transported throughout the body. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women. It is second to lung cancer as the highest cause of cancer-related death among women.
Breast Cancer Symptoms
Changes in how the breasts look and feel are important in identifying breast cancer. These changes could look like this:
- Breast lump
- Changes in breast size or shape
- Breast swelling or pain
- Dimpling of the skin in or around the breast (resembles an orange peel)
- Changes in the nipple (inward turning of the nipple, nipple that is dry or flaky, nipple discharge, nipple pain)
- Lymph nodes that are swollen or painful
Having these symptoms does not automatically point to breast cancer. However, when these are encountered, it is important to see a doctor right away to have them evaluated. Checking for symptoms also does not replace routine screening for breast cancer, especially for high-risk populations.
Treatment for Breast Cancer
There are many options to treat breast cancer, depending on the type and severity of the cancer. As some forms of breast cancer are very aggressive and invasive, treatment usually consists of combining different treatment options. These include surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and hormonal therapy. It all depends on the stage and invasiveness of the cancer. For some forms, conservative surgery may be done first, followed by radiation therapy and chemotherapy or hormonal therapy.
What is Radiation?
Radiation is energy produced and released from electromagnetic waves or subatomic particles. Radiation therapy works by preventing cancer cells from dividing and multiplying. It exposes cells to high-energy rays, which can either directly kill the cells or result in genetic changes that can cause cell death.
Radiation therapy for breast cancer is done in various areas. Radiation can be performed in the breast, chest, underarm area, and above or below the collarbone. It is regularly done in short courses for over 3 to 4 weeks or sometimes longer. It is also usually done along with hormonal therapy.
Why is Radiation Used to Help Treat Breast Cancer?
Radiation therapy is an important addition to the treatment of breast cancer. After surgery, it decreases the rate of cancer recurrence, the chance of complications and death, and improves patients' chances of survival. It is also a good treatment option as breast-conserving therapy. After conservative surgery, which can still preserve the breast, radiation therapy helps with local control of spread.
What Are the Most Common Side Effects of Radiation?
Radiation therapy is beneficial to patients with breast cancer. It is non-invasive and preserves the structure of the breast. However, every treatment has its side effects. Side effects of radiation vary, and some may be immediately evident while others take time to manifest. It is important to know about the side effects to be able to make an informed decision before therapy.
Some side effects may be immediately noticeable weeks after starting treatment. These include breast pain or discomfort. It can become itchy, red, and peel like it was sunburnt. Another side effect is fatigue, feeling weak or tired, and lacking energy. This usually begins after radiation treatment and can last for months after the treatment ends. Fatigue can also lead to sleeping problems such as insomnia.
More long-term side effects include discoloration of the breast and changes in the size of the breast, becoming smaller over time. Swelling of the breast, back, or chest area can also occur due to the accumulation of fluid in the arms. This condition is called lymphedema and occurs if radiation therapy includes the lymph nodes in the underarm area or above the collarbone.
How to Manage the Side Effects of Radiation
Despite radiation therapy having side effects, there are ways by which we can alleviate them. Some are simple remedies, while others may need the evaluation and help of a doctor. For breast soreness or pain, common pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be helpful. If the breast becomes red, itchy, or beings peeling, some creams can be used for relief.
Exercising and getting enough sleep can help combat fatigue. Short, simple exercises such as walking for 20 to 30 minutes per day can help alleviate this side effect. If fatigue or sleeping problems persist or lymphedema is evident, a doctor can help manage them.
Breast cancer is a very challenging illness, but we have many treatment options for people with it. Remember, no treatment is without side effects. It is crucial to be aware of these treatment options and their side effects to give the best management for every person.