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Article - Menopause

Menopause - Taking the Edge Off With Supplements
By Fred Fishburne

What is progesterone?

Progesterone is one of two main hormones, the other being estrogen. Progesterone is made by the ovaries of menstruating women, in small amounts in the adrenal glands in both sexes and in the testes in males. In the ovaries, progesterone is the precursor of estrogen. Progesterone is carried in the blood stream, where it is either used or excreted by the liver. One of the main functions of progesterone is to promote the survival and development of the embryo and fetus. Any drop in progesterone level or blockage of its receptor sites can result in the loss of the embryo.

In the third trimester of pregnancy progesterone levels are very high. Many women notice increased energy and a sense of well being. At birth progesterone levels drop suddenly causing in some women postpartum depression. Natural progesterone supplementation can be used at this time to raise progesterone levels to remedy depression and as a thermogenic to help burn off fat that occurred during pregnancy. Slow thyroid glands also can be boosted with progesterone. (See the article on Estrogen - Progesterone Balance for more benefits of progesterone.)

Herbal Supplements have also shown good success in relieving hormone imbalance symptoms. Black Cohosh has been used by many women as an alternative to HRT with out complications. Black Cohosh acts like estrogen in that it suppresses the effects of L.H. (luteinizing hormone) which are hot flashes, night sweats, headaches, heart palpitations, and vaginal dryness. The most popular ways to take black cohosh is by capsule or liquid extract. Black cohosh should not be taken by pregnant women unless it is used at the end to induce labor.

Dong quai (angelica) does not contain estrogen as some believe. What it does do is act as an adaptogen by contracting and relaxing the uterine muscles, enhances metabolism, improves liver function (which improves the excretion of hormones), aids in utilization of vitamin E, stabilizes heart rhythm, lowers blood pressure by dilating blood vessels and has a mild sedative activity.

Osteoporosis is a major epidemic in the United States. Many doctors prescribe estrogen (HRT) for prevention of bone loss and tell their patients to get a calcium supplement from the local drugstore, not instructing them on the most absorbable kinds. The patient usually leaves with the least absorbable of the most important mineral for bone strength.

Many women have quit taking estrogen due to a 2002 study showing that HRT can cause heart attacks and breast cancer. More and more women are turning to natural supplements to combat osteoporosis. (The best place to find natural supplements is at a natural supplement store. Go to the experts for such critical information on the best supplements for bone health.)

It is becoming increasingly clear that calcium alone is not enough for bone strength.

Vitamin K is required to synthesize osteocalcin, a protein found uniquely and in large amounts in bone. Frequent use of antibiotics can destroy vitamin K producing bacteria in the intestines. Vitamin K deficiency can occur in those who do not eat enough vegetables.

Vitamin D is required for intestinal calcium absorption. Reduced plasma vitamin D levels are common in elderly women.

Magnesium is deficient in 80-85% of American woman. This major mineral participates in a number of biochemical reactions that take place in bone.

Manganese is required for bone mineralization and for synthesis of connective tissue in cartilage and bone. At least half of the manganese in a typical diet is lost when whole grains are replaced by refined flour.

Folic acid is important in bone health due to its involvement in the metabolism of homocysteine, a potentially toxic compound. Studies have shown that people with high levels of homocysteine developed severe osteoporosis at an early age, possibly due to an adverse effect of homocysteine on bone. It appears that menopause is associated with a requirement for folic acid, probably to keep homocysteine levels in check.

Boron has shown to increase serum concentrations of the estrogenic hormone,17B-estradiol without the side effects of HRT. In fact, the levels of 17B-estradiol in boron-supplemented women were the same as in women receiving estrogen therapy.

Other nutrients that are used for bone strength are silicon, vitamin B-6, zinc, Vitamin C and copper. Since a typical American diet contains only about 50% of the RDA (2mg/day) for copper, deficiency of this trace mineral may be quite common.

Fred Fishburne and his wife are owners of a successful health store in McDonough, Ga., since 1994, specializing in combining supplementation and proper nutrition for optimal health benefits. Visit at: to read more health articles.

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