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Are Your Symptoms Due To Menopause or Thyroid Dysfunction – It’s often both

James Meschino DC, MS, ROHP
 For women entering the peri-menopausal stage of life (age 45-50) a number of age-related factors often combine to decrease feeling of well being and vitality, which may remain troublesome for many years to follow. The decline in estrogen and progesterone (and testosterone) that begins in the peri-menopausal stage and becomes most pronounced once menstrual periods have ceased, is known to trigger hot flashes, erratic sweating, mood changes, insomnia and a disrupted sense of overall well being. The decline in these hormones also leads to a loss of lean mass, which slows metabolism, as well as a loss of bone mass, along with changes in the texture of the skin and hair.

However, not all the changes to metabolism, skin, hair and general well being can be blamed on the decline of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone after the age of 45, as this is exactly the time in life when thyroid dysfunction also becomes quite common. As many anti-aging experts indicate, it is not uncommon for middle-aged individuals, especially women, to experience symptoms of thyroid dysfunction through any combination of the following symptoms: fatigue, difficulty losing weight, easy weight gain, cold hands, cold feet, low body temperature, dry skin, altered hair texture, and/or lowered resistance to infection.

Whereas severe hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) requires a prescription of thyroid hormone from a physician, cases of thyroid dysfunction (symptoms of sluggish thyroid in the absence of positive blood tests for hypothyroidism) often benefit from targeted nutritional support. Thus, in the absence of hypothyroidism (which women should be screened for it they have classic symptoms of hypothyroidism) it is often a good idea to provide peri-menopausal women with herbal menopausal support nutrients (black cohosh, soy extract and gamma-oryzanol) along with a nutrient support supplement to boost thyroid function. In women who gain weight during the peri and menopausal stages of life, the additional use of a supplement combination to assist in fat burning, lean mass gains and natural appetite suppression may solve this troublesome problem which often shows up during this period of life.

Herbal Female Support Nutrients For Menopause
The combination of black cohosh, soy extract and gamma-oryzanol, have a proven track record in reducing hot flashes, sweating, insomnia, mood changes induced by menopause. They also enhance feeling of well being and may help reduce bone loss and protect cardiovascular health to a modest degree. In this regard, many women benefit from a supplement that contains therapeutic doses of each of these ingredients.

Thyroid Support Nutrients
The thyroid gland requires optimum nutritional intake of the amino acid tyrosine, which is the raw material from which the thyroid gland makes thyroid hormone. In order to convert tyrosine into thyroid hormone, the body also requires iodine, copper, manganese, the B-vitamin, Pantothenic acid, and other vitamins and minerals as co-factors in the synthesis of thyroid hormone.

Additional studies demonstrate that the herb known as Withonia Somnifera (used extensively in the Indian Medical System called Ayurvedic Medicine) can boost the release of thyroid hormone from the thyroid gland in experimental studies. Another herb native to India, known as Commiphora mukul, has been shown to hasten the conversion of thyroid hormone (T4) to its most active form (T3). It is the T3 form of thyroid hormone that is used by the tissues and organs of the body to support their metabolism and biological functions.

In cases where a supplement containing black cohosh, soy isoflavones and gamma-oryzanol do not completely resolve what appears to be menopausal symptoms, women should consider adding a well formulated thyroid support supplement to their regime, containing optimal levels of each of these thyroid enhancing nutrients mentioned above. This can be especially helpful for women who continue to feel sluggish, gain weight and/or exhibit changes to their skin and hair that is unaffected by a supplement containing black cohosh, soy extract and gamma-oryzanol.

Sometimes Fat-Burning Nutrients Are Also Required To Overcome A Slow Metabolism
When a healthy diet, exercise, female support nutrients and thyroid support nutrients are not producing the desired effects on weight loss and body shaping, you may require one additional supplement formula that can contain metabolic conditioning agents that can help you reduce body fat.  Its important to use a product that  does not contain any stimulants (no ephedra or any ephedra look-a-like agents, including caffeine), but does contain natural agents that enhance the ability of the body to burn fat when exercising (by helping to release fat from fat cells more efficiently), reduces the conversion of carbohydrate foods into fat (by lowering insulin demand, and by blocking key enzymes in the liver that convert carbohydrates into fat) and naturally reduces the tendency to over eat (by diverting carbohydrates to the liver’s carbohydrate fuel tank, which suppresses the appetite center in the brain). The best ingredients to accomplish this task include the correct dosages of chromium, hydroxycitric acid and green tea catechins.

The Bottom Line For Menopausal and Post Menopausal Women
Studies cited by the Life Extension Foundation confirm that it is no longer accurate to assume that all the signs and symptoms that occur in a woman’s life after age 45 are attributable to the decline in estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. A sluggish thyroid problem (thyroid dysfunction) often co-exists during the same period when menstrual cycles are coming to an end. As such, many women need the help of female support nutrients to help manage the symptoms brought on by menopause and also require thyroid support nutrients to help maintain their energy and metabolism, and minimize aging changes to their skin and hair. In select cases, where excess weight gain appears to be highly resistant to management by diet, exercise, female support and thyroid support nutrients, women should consider an additional supplementation containing safe and natural metabolic conditioning agents to help reduce their body fat, as weight gain can not only adversely affect self-esteem, but it is well established that post-menopausal women who are over weight have a 3-tmes greater risk of developing breast cancer (and endometrial cancer) than do women who are leaner.

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