To complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Good Eats: Navigate Menopause with Nutrition,” by Erin Zimniewicz Williams, in the October 2012 issue. Article summary: Nutrition is an important component in addressing menopause. Poor nutrition is implicated as a contributing factor in five of the 10 leading causes of death in women: heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and diseases of the liver and kidneys. The risk of these diseases increases dramatically once menopause symptoms begin.

Tori Hudson, N.D.

When it comes to helping perimenopausal, menopausal and postmenopausal women with hormonal-related issues, there are three broad areas to be mindful of: symptom relief, disease prevention and disease treatment.

Research increasingly shows omega-3 fish oils can also help. Fish oils can assist menopausal women with such issues as heart disease, hot flashes and dry-eye syndrome.

When it comes to disease prevention and treatment, research on omega-3 fish oils covers a broad range, and includes problems related to bones, breast, the heart and brain. The research in these areas is robust, with many significant implications for women.

To state just a few benefits, fish oils have been shown to increase calcium absorption, reduce urinary calcium excretion and increase the calcium that is deposited in the bones.

Heart disease

The use of fish oils in the area of heart disease is clearly the largest area of research and significance, with heart disease being the number-one cause of death in women in the U.S.

Fish oils have a significant role in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, as well as death from cardiovascular disease. There are also some specific cardiac situations in which fish oils have shown benefit, including hypertension, arrhythmia, dyslipidemia and congestive heart failure.

Hot flashes

Two studies have demonstrated fish oil can reduce the frequency of hot flashes.

In one, there was a 55-percent decrease in frequency with approximately 60 percent of the women responding. The women took a 500-milligram capsule three times per day. In each capsule, there were 350 milligrams of EPA and 50 milligrams of DHA.

In the second study, peri- or postmenopausal women received 2 grams per day of fish oil containing 840 milligrams of EPA and 375 milligrams of DHA. The response rate of 70 percent was even higher, and they had at least a 50-percent reduction in the number of hot flashes.

Dry-eye syndrome

It is well accepted that dry-eye syndrome is influenced by age and the hormonal changes of menopause. Diets low in omega-3 oils have been associated with a greater incidence of dry-eye syndrome as well.

Fish oils, as well as flax oil and sea buckthorn oil, are demonstrating positive results in this challenging area of women’s health. Omega-3 deficiency may also be associated with dryness of the skin.

Quality

Practitioners are advised to become studious about what determines a high-quality fish oil: freshness, purity, potency and environmental sustainability in the manufacturing process. Look for third-party testing for contaminants, oxygen-free processing, natural triglyceride form for better absorption, and concentrates with specific blends of EPA and DHA to suit the clinical situation.

Look to omega-3 fish oils to help your perimenopausal, menopausal and postmenopausal clients on many levels.

Tori Hudson, N.D., is a nationally recognized author, speaker, educator and researcher, and has had a clinical practice for 28 years. She is currently the medical director of A Woman’s Time in Portland, Oregon; the director of product research and education for Vitanica; and serves on the Nordic Naturals (www.nordicnaturals.com) advisory board.

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