Menopause is a permanent loss of menstruation after a period of amenorrhea (abnormal stoppage of the menstrual periods) lasting more than one year. The usual range of age of onset is age 40 to 55 and symptoms of menopause include hot flashes, arteriosclerosis, and deterioration of the skin suggestive of estrogen deficiency.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to replace estrogen can lead to vascular deterioration, breast cancer, and endometrial (inner lining of the uterus) cancer. This study was done to look for alternatives to HRT because the only benefit to HRT seems to be relief of menopause symptoms and mild reduced risk of colon cancer.
The authors studied whether micronutrients might be effective in treating menopause symptoms and reviewed previous menopause studies using antioxidants. Oxygen stress seems to be involved in the problems related to menopause. The cell membranes (the surrounding walls of cells) and the mitochondria (the energy producing parts of cells) are very sensitive to oxygen damage. Estrogen producing ovarian cells have large numbers of mitochondria where large amounts of oxygen are used. Tissues that use large amounts of oxygen have a high risk of oxygen damage.
The cause of hot flashes is unknown and women with hot flashes tend to have lower blood levels of antioxidants. The benefit of high antioxidant diets against hot flashes has been suggested by the results of epidemiologic studies. Eighty-five percent of U.S. women have hot flashes compared to 25% of Japanese women. Some people believe that this is due to the amount of soy that the Japanese eat containing “antioxidant phytoestrogenic isoflavones”. Soy isoflavones help prevent cardiovascular damage, protect bones, and can reduce hot flashes.
Damage to the lipid or a fatty structure of cells is a sign of oxygen stress and oxygen stress also plays a role in damage to the skin. This oxygen damage can be reduced by a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Oxidation in the blood vessels promotes arteriosclerosis and LDL-cholesterol is especially sensitive to oxidation. Taking antioxidants promises to reduce arteriosclerosis.
Vitamin C and vitamin E can reduce cardiovascular disease and skin aging. An antioxidant rich diet with fruits and vegetables reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Supplemental antioxidants may be necessary in women who do not have a balanced diet, are sedentary, smoke, abuse alcohol, and are stressed.
The authors studied the role of the B vitamins; especially, vitamin B-6 that prevents the generation of high levels of charged oxygen molecules causing cell damage, especially in the heart and liver. Vitamin B combinations help keep glutathione in its reduced state and B-12, B-3, and B-2 are also important.
Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is a normal component of mitochondria and neutralizes charged oxygen molecules. ALA protects menopausal and post-menopausal women from insulin resistance and hypertension.
Glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase (S.O.D.) detoxifying enzymes are important in preventing oxidative stress during menopause.
Thioproline (TP) and 1-2-oxothiazolidine-4-carboxylic acid (OTC) are building blocks of glutathione and are necessary for the detoxification of cells. The authors suggest the use of TP and OTC because the cysteine they supply for glutathione production is rapidly oxidized in menopause.
Curcuma longa (turmeric) water and alcohol extracts have strong oxygen stress neutralizing effects and protect against cardiovascular disease.
CONCLUSION: The authors conclude that supplying the above antioxidants, both orally and on the skin, may be beneficial in relieving the results of oxygen stress in women with menopause symptoms who do not wish to use HRT and do not consume a healthy diet with five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. The authors believe that these supplements should be given under the care of a physician.