Although some people may take supplements to relieve menopausal symptoms, black cohosh and vitamins have little evidence of having a significant effect.

For women experiencing menopausal symptoms, there are some supplements that may help ease them. Learn about the effectiveness and possible side effects of popular supplements for menopause.

What Are Perimenopause and Menopause?

. The term for when a person’s estrogen levels drop and they stop menstruating is “menopause.” Menopause usually occurs around age 52 in the United States.

However, menopause does not happen abruptly. On average, it takes people approximately 4 years to transition into menopause. During this time, a person’s periods may change in:

  • regularity
  • duration
  • heaviness

A person is going through menopause when they are no longer menstruating.

Menopausal symptoms can develop during perimenopause and may include:

  • hot flashes
  • difficulty sleeping
  • mood changes
  • vaginal dryness
  • loss of bone density
  • increase in cholesterol levels

According to a 2005 review of studies, two-thirds of women have menopausal symptoms during perimenopause. Up to 90% of women seek advice from a healthcare professional about managing menopause symptoms. Menopause symptoms can vary from person to person and may last for several years.

Menopause supplements are not subject to the same level of regulation as other drugs, so it’s important to remember that the amounts of active ingredients in proprietary blends may not be listed on the packaging. In addition, a product may contain unlisted active or inactive ingredients.

Before taking any supplements, it’s important to speak with a healthcare professional or pharmacist. Some supplements can cause unwanted side effects or interact with other medications, both prescription and over-the-counter.

How to Choose Supplements for Menopause

When picking a supplement or multivitamin for menopause, consider the following factors:

  • Intended use. Because most products are formulated to treat specific issues associated with menopause, consider your health needs and look for a supplement that contains ingredients intended to address the symptoms you’re experiencing.
  • Quality ingredients. Look for supplements that have been tested for purity, strength, and safety, ideally by an independent lab or third-party organization.
  • Dosage. In addition to the amounts of ingredients provided, consider how many capsules you’ll need to take each day.
  • Budget. Be sure to evaluate your budget and check the price per serving to find a supplement that fits your needs.

Speak with a healthcare professional before using any supplements to determine if it is the right choice for you.

How We Chose

The supplements included in this article were selected based on the following criteria:

  • Ingredients. Supplements contain vitamins, minerals, and herbal ingredients that are beneficial specifically for menopause.
  • Price. Each product provides a good value for the price.
  • Quality. We prioritized products that are certified by third-party organizations such as NSF International and Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
  • Vetting. All the products included have been vetted to ensure that they meet Healthline’s medical and business standards.
  • Customer reviews. Each product has mostly positive customer reviews online.

Menopause Supplements 

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), there is no clear evidence that dietary supplements can relieve menopause symptoms. Additionally, the NCCIH notes that there is little research on the long-term safety of dietary supplements.

There are a few different supplements that can be taken to help with menopause symptoms. Here is a list of some of the most effective supplements, as well as any potential side effects that could occur.

Thorne Meta-Balance

Thorne Research is a company known for producing high-quality supplements that are sustainably sourced.

This menopause formula aims to reduce menopause symptoms with a combination of chaste berry, black cohosh, and wild yam root extract, which are all herbs with a history of being used to manage hormones.

This supplement also includes French maritime pine bark extract, which has shown to potentially help prevent bone loss in postmenopausal women.

Thorne Meta-Balance is the best pick because it is made with high-quality ingredients and does not contain any gluten, soy, dairy, or artificial flavors.

Thorne is also certified by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration, which regulates the quality of supplements and medications.

HUM Nutrition Fan Club

HUM Nutrition’s Fan Club supplement is designed to provide long-term relief from menopausal symptoms like hot flashes.

The Siberian rhubarb featured in this product has been shown to reduce menopause symptoms by 67% after just 12 weeks, according to one study.

The supplement also contains Lactobacillus Plantarum, which is a probiotic strain that is important for brain health and mood.

Third-party testing of all HUM Nutrition products guarantees their purity, while the lack of artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives keeps them healthy. Furthermore, this supplement is neither genetically modified nor does it contain soy or gluten.

NOW Menopause Support

NOW is a popular choice for supplements because they are high-quality and budget-friendly.

This supplement has a lot of ingredients that have been shown to help with menopause symptoms like hot flashes. Some of these ingredients include red clover, chasteberry, and black cohosh extract.

The product is also safe for vegetarians to use and does not contain nuts, eggs, dairy, or gluten.

NOW is certified by UL, meaning that it adheres to strict safety standards set by the organization.

Natural Factors WomenSense MenoSense

MenoSense is a supplement that is designed to help with menopause symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats.

This product contains several ingredients that have been shown to effectively treat symptoms of menopause, including chaste berry extract and black cohosh extract.

The supplement also contains dong quai extract, which is a herb commonly used in Chinese medicine to relieve symptoms related to menstruation and menopause.

The capsules are made without any animal products, gluten, or soy. They have also been tested by an independent lab to make sure they do not contain any GMOs or contaminants.

Smoky Mountain DIM 200 mg with BioPerine

This product contains diindolylmethane, which is a compound found in cruciferous vegetables. This compound can help support estrogen metabolism.

This would be most helpful during menopause when there are changes in hormone levels.

It also includes BioPerine, or black pepper extract, which is added to many supplements to increase the rate of absorption.

The safety of Smoky Mountain products is ensured through third-party testing, and the products are certified vegan, certified gluten-free, and non-GMO.

New Chapter One Daily Every Woman’s Multivitamin 40+

This text is discussing how menopause brings changes to a woman’s body composition and hormone levels, and how those changes mean her nutrient requirements also change.

This multivitamin from New Chapter is designed specifically for menopausal women, making it easier to ensure you’re meeting your nutritional needs during this time.

This product not only provides important vitamins and minerals, but also features many organic vegetable and herbal blends. These are designed to balance hormone levels, reduce stress and fatigue, and promote healthy digestion.

This supplement is certified gluten-free by NSF International, is free of artificial colors and flavors, is vegetarian-friendly, and is certified organic.

Black Cohosh 

Black cohosh is an herbal supplement commonly used by menopausal women.

This plant has been used by Native Americans to treat conditions such as fever, cough, and irregular menstruation. European settlers also used black cohosh to support female reproductive health.

More recently, people may use black cohosh to treat menopausal symptoms such as:

  • hot flashes
  • night sweats
  • vaginal dryness
  • irritability

Originally, scientists thought that black cohosh worked like estrogen. More recent studies suggest that this herb works by mimicking the neurotransmitters:

  • dopamine
  • serotonin
  • norepinephrine

There is no evidence to suggest that black cohosh influences hormone levels in the body, including estradiol.

Many years ago, it was thought that taking black cohosh either by itself or with other herbs could help reduce uncomfortable symptoms that come with menopause. But newer studies show that black cohosh doesn’t have any real impact on these symptoms. The researchers conducting these studies say that we need more thorough investigations into this topic.

Side Effects and Safety

Although the National Institutes of Health stated black cohosh does not have any adverse interactions with medication, it is always best to consult with a healthcare professional before taking any type of supplement.

However, the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center warns that black cohosh may interact with the following medications:

  • Tamoxifen: Black cohosh may interfere with the way tamoxifen works.
  • Chemotherapy drugs: Black cohosh may increase the toxicity of the chemotherapy drugs doxorubicin and docetaxel.
  • Cytochrome P450 3A4: This enzyme plays an important part in metabolizing medicines. Black cohosh may interact with drugs that this enzyme metabolizes.
  • Simvastatin: Black cohosh may increase the side effects a person experiences with simvastatin.

It is important to note that the FDA does not regulate black cohosh, so it is difficult to know which ingredients a manufacturer uses for their product. Some products may have adulterants, which means manufacturers may substitute black cohosh for similar synthetic ingredients.

At least 83 cases of liver damage have been linked to black cohosh use worldwide, according to the NIH. The organization says this may be partly due to adulterants and impurities. However, there has been no independent analysis of the link between black cohosh and liver damage.

Furthermore, the quantity of black cohosh in supplements can differ, making it more uncertain if someone will experience side effects from taking a larger dose.

Side effects from taking black cohosh may include:

  • uterine bleeding
  • breast pain
  • musculoskeletal pain and discomfort

If you take a larger dose, you may have problems with your stomach, like feeling full and having stomach cramps.

Less common side effects include:

  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • vomiting

Calcium and Vitamin D

Adult females have approximately 1,200 grams of calcium in their bodies which does not change until their estrogen levels start to decline during menopause.

Vitamin D not only aids in bone health, but also helps prevent osteoporosis during menopause when a person’s bone density starts to decline. A lack of calcium and vitamin D is a contributing factor to this condition.

The Women’s Health Initiative Trial investigated the effects of calcium and vitamin D supplements on menopausal symptoms. The participants took 1000 mg of calcium and 400 international units (IU) of vitamin D during the study, and the researchers followed up with the participants after an average of 5.7 years. The results showed that calcium and vitamin D had no effect on menopausal symptoms.

There was no difference in symptoms between the group that took supplements and the group that did not, including sleep disturbances, energy levels, and emotional well-being. Therefore, calcium and vitamin D supplements are unlikely to affect symptoms of menopause.

Side Effects and Safety

If you are 50 or younger, you should consume 1,000 mg of calcium per day, and if you are over 50, you should consume 1,200 mg of calcium per day. The maximum amount of calcium you should consume in a day is 2,500 mg if you are 50 or younger, and 2,000 mg if you are over 50.

For females aged 70 years or below, the recommended intake of vitamin D is 600 IU. For those aged over 70 years, the recommended intake is 800 IU.

Inadequate or excessive levels of calcium and vitamin D can lead to adverse effects.

Calcium

Side effects of having too little calcium include:

  • pins and needles feeling in the fingertips, toes, and lips
  • muscle pains and cramps in the legs, feet, and stomach
  • facial muscle twitches
  • mood changes, such as depression, irritability, and anxiety
  • fatigue
  • rough and dry skin
  • coarse hair and hair breakage
  • easily broken fingernails

Side effects of having too much calcium, or hypercalcemia, include:

  • vomiting
  • drowsiness
  • dehydration
  • muscle spasms
  • bone and joint pain
  • irregular heartbeat
  • high blood pressure

Vitamin D

Adults and children who do not have enough vitamin D are at risk for developing bone conditions such as rickets and osteomalacia. Symptoms of these conditions include bone pain and weakness, and can lead to softening of the bones.

Hypercalcemia is a medical condition that can be caused by taking too many vitamin D supplements.

Are Menopause Supplements Safe?

Supplements that are marketed to help with menopause usually contain a combination of different herbs, and are usually considered safe to take as long as you follow the directions.

There are always risks associated with taking supplements. Therefore, it is best to talk to a healthcare professional before adding supplements to your routine, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking other medications.

Should I Take These Supplements Daily?

Be sure to follow the directions on the label carefully and use supplements as directed by a healthcare professional.

Summary

Menopause is a natural and inevitable stage of life for all women, but it can cause troublesome symptoms that negatively affect a person’s quality of life. Some women may wish to use natural supplements as a way to alleviate their symptoms. However, there is little scientific evidence that these supplements are actually effective, and many studies deliver inconsistent results.

Before taking any dietary supplements, it is advised that people should contact a healthcare professional for advice. This is because some supplements can interact with both prescription and nonprescription medications, and may cause additional side effects.

 

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Rhoda is an award-winning dietitian, mature age model, and CEO of Sayvana Women.  

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