The common conception of menopause is sometimes confused with perimenopause. True menopause is the complete ceasing of menstruation. Perimenopause refers to the symptoms associated with menopause: hot flushes, mood swings, fatigue and sleep difficulties. These are triggered by changing hormone levels, especially the decrease in oestrogen production that comes with menopause. Different vitamins, along with regular exercise and proper mineral intake, can help ease some of these symptoms and improve your overall well-being.
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Vitamin B Complex
Vitamin B complex supplements include vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and B12. The human body needs B vitamins to produce energy, so healthy levels of those vitamins can reduce perimenopausal fatigue. According to Dr. George Obikoya, Vitamins and Nutrition Center, vitamin B5 is necessary for stress hormone production, so a balanced level may reduce the anxiety that can come with the hormonal changes. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends different dosages for each B vitamin. For vitamins B1 and B2, 1.1 mg is recommended for women over 18 years of age. For B3 and B5, it's 14 mg and 5 mg, respectively. For B6, it's 1.3 to 1.5 mg depending on age. Vitamin B12 is measured in international units, IU, rather than milligrams, so 2.4 IU is the recommended dose. A B-complex vitamin supplement combines all of these, so ask your doctor what's best.
Vitamins C and D
Vitamins C and D enhance the body's absorption of iron and calcium. A woman's risk for osteoporosis increases during perimenopause, so it's important to take these vitamins along with a calcium supplement. Calcium also supports muscle relaxation, which can help sleep. Since vitamin C in particular maintains the stress hormone cortisol, it may help perimenopausal anxiety and depression. The U.S. National Institute of Health recommended daily dosage of vitamin C is 75 mg for women over 19 years of age. However, according to "Psychology Today", 1,000 mg daily is more effective against anxiety. The U.S. Department of Health and Human services recommends 200 IU of vitamin D until age 50, when it increases to 400 IU. You can also get a healthy vitamin D intake with 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure to your hands, neck and face -- but be sure to wear sunscreen with an SPF level higher than 8.
A 2009 study from Meiji University in Japan suggested that inadequate vitamin E levels can increase stress, especially when combined with social isolation. Vitamin E is required for oxygen utilisation in the brain and when the brain functions properly, anxiety levels can decrease. Its oxidative properties can also prevent free radical damage to stressed-out cells. The U.S. National Institute of Health says that vitamin E can help prevent heart attacks and cardiovascular-related deaths in women, the risks of which increase during perimenopause. The recommended daily dose is 15 mg.
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- Women to Women: Menopause & perimenopause
- The Vitamins & Nutrition Center: Vitamin B - The Energy Vitamin
- Women's Health.gov: Frequently Asked Questions - Osteoporosis
- Linus Pauling Institute: Micronutrient Information Center - Vitamin C
- Women's Health.gov: Frequently Asked Questions - Menopause and Menopause Treatments
- NIH Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin E
- NIH Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin C
- Stress Reduction Basics: Top 10 Anxiety Stress Relief Vitamins and Minerals
- PubMed: Dietary vitamin E deficiency increases anxiety-related behaviour...
- Psychology Today: Vitamin C - Stress Buster
- MedlinePlus: Calcium
- United States Department of Agriculture: Dietary Guidance