Nutrients relieve menstrual pain and hot flashes
Omega-3s and vitamin E
The body produces hormone-like substances called prostaglandins, which help smooth muscle contract and relax; blood vessels dilate and contract, and can cause inflammation. Doctors believe there is a link between prostaglandins and painful uterine contractions during menstruation.
Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory, and vitamin E suppresses the production of prostaglandins. In this study, 100 women, age 18 to 25, took a daily dose of 180 mg EPA plus 120 mg DHA from fish oil, 200 IU of vitamin E, the omega-3s and vitamin E together, or a placebo.
After eight weeks, while the placebo group did not improve, those taking omega-3s or vitamin E alone had some improvement, but women taking omega-3s plus vitamin E reported the greatest relief from menstrual pain.
Soy germ and hot flashes
Soy isoflavones contain phytoestrogens—plant based substances that mimic the action of estrogen. Earlier studies found soy reduced menopausal symptoms, and new evidence supports soy for relieving hot flashes.
In this study, 180 menopausal women reporting at least seven hot flashes per day took a placebo or a soy germ extract containing 100 mg total isoflavones per day. After 12 weeks, women in the soy group reported 43 percent fewer hot flashes compared to 31 percent for placebo. Continuing for another 12 weeks, hot flashes in the soy group declined by 68 percent.
Among women with the most severe symptoms, hot flashes and sweating declined by 71 and 78 percent, respectively, for the soy group compared to 24 percent each for placebo, after 12 weeks.