Speakers Address the Use of Supplements for Menopause and Eye Health
GREENSBORO, NC — At Banner’s 4th Annual Education Symposium at the Grandover Resort recently, guest speakers addressed natural supplement alternatives for women experiencing menopause, and supplements that have shown delay and possible prevention of cataracts, an age-related eye disease.
With all of the mass products that are available in the form of natural supplements, there is no wonder why physicians and consumers alike are overwhelmed by the waves of products to choose from in the marketplace.
“The marketplace demands quality products and sound marketing that can deliver the clear facts,” says John Barbee, senior vice president in nutritional sales and marketing for Banner. “We have to be proactive not only in the area of consumer preferred delivery systems, but also in how we communicate the benefits of those products to consumers,” says Barbee. “When consumers have accurate information about nutritional and natural supplements, they can make beneficial health decisions for themselves and their families.”
Remember, menopause is a natural experience, not an illness.
For women experiencing the various stages of menopause, there is a plethora of herbal supplements and creams that can be ingested or topically applied, such as wild yam cream, which claim in some cases to provide balancing solutions for menopause. However, some members of the medical community say that it would be unethical for them to prescribe such treatments because wild yam is not converted to progesterone in the body. On the other hand, a study of women who used topical progesterone cream experienced a significant reduction in hot flashes and night sweats with continued usage up to one year. Use of a topical progesterone cream for one year is also safer and is available over-the-counter compared to that of an oral dosage form.
Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, from the University of Mexico, Dept. of Family Medicine says, “More than 40 million American women are 50 years or older and 20 million more will reach menopause within the next decade.” She goes on to say though hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is effective for the relief of hot flashes and night sweats, women often complain about the side effects such as bloating, breast tenderness, irritability, cramping, breakthrough bleeding or the return of monthly menstrual cycles.
“In America, 30 percent of women will not have menopausal symptoms,” says Dr. Low Dog. “Their cycles will just stop, while 70 percent will have symptoms and will seek alternatives to help manage their symptom(s).” According to the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), roughly 20 percent of women who reach menopause will choose to take hormone replacement therapy.
Unfortunately, the risk of cancer associated with HRT is high, particularly for women who have used HRT for more than five years. “More worrisome risks of HRT include an increased risk of breast and other estrogen driven cancers, especially in women 55 and older who have used estrogen for more than five years,” says Dr. Low Dog.
Since preliminary findings from the Women's Health Initiative were released last year, women and health care providers have been asking questions about the safety and effectiveness of alternative remedies such as soy, black cohosh and red clover.
Ten clinical trials have been conducted to determine the effectiveness of black cohosh. Studies show that the extract is well tolerated; however, recommended dosages are not consistently labeled. Red clover and soy have also been studied to determine their effectiveness in treating menopausal symptoms. To date, there is no evidence to suggest that red clover is beneficial for the treatment of menopausal symptoms or cardiac health.
Because many natural and nutritional supplement dosages are inconsistent, Dr. Low Dog recommends that consumers work with their doctors or dieticians to create personalized regimens for more effective results. Those who take a combination of two or three nutritional/natural alternatives verses one may obtain more desired results. For instance, a combination of black cohosh and soy may reduce symptoms for some women.
Do you have good eye health?
“Loss of sight is the second greatest fear among the elderly,” says Dr. Allen Taylor, senior scientist and director of Laboratory for Nutrition and Vision Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston . Taylor notes that in the United States, cataracts increases from about five percent at age 65 to about 50 percent in adults older than 75 years. This is significant considering that cataract is one of the major causes of blindness throughout the world— and it is preventable.
Dr. Taylor has written several briefs about nutrition and vision research. At the symposium, Taylor discussed the increasing prevalence of cataracts, an age-related eye disease, in older adults as well as delay and prevention of eye illness case studies. Such studies provide evidence regarding the use of antioxidants to delay cataract formation.
There are three different types of eye illness that can occur within the three different metabolic zones of the eye—Cortical, Posterior and Nuclear cataract. There is also evidence to suggest that smoking increases your chances of developing cataracts.
So how can you prevent or delay the age-related eye disease? Dr. Taylor says that evidence shows “nutrients can delay and probably [in theory] prolong eye function.” The major aqueous antioxidants in the lens are ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and glutathione (GHS). Studies have shown that use of vitamin C or vitamin E supplements for 10 or more years decreases chances for getting cataracts in the nucleus of the lens. This is the most common form of cataracts.
Maintaining levels of riboflavin, folate, B-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin is also useful for extending the functional life of the lens. A good diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, with the addition of an antioxidant vitamin supplement can provide the least costly and most practical means to delay cataracts says Dr. Taylor.
Banner is a global company that researches, develops, and manufactures drug delivery technologies and proprietary health care products. Located in High Point, it currently employs 515 people in the Triad. With state-of-the-art, FDA-approved manufacturing facilities and significant investment in research and development, Banner provides innovative oral delivery solutions and unique products to the health care industry worldwide. A wholly owned subsidiary of Sobel N.V., Banner has operations in the United States, Canada, Europe, Latin America and Asia-Pacific.
Banner has hosted annual symposiums to help educate suppliers and manufacturers about industry trends to begin developing solutions, which then benefit the users of nutritional products. Barbee and colleagues look forward to creating a more informed environment throughout the industry and for consumers.
Banner’s symposium was made possible with help from worldwide manufacturers and suppliers in the nutrition industry. Sponsors for this year’s event were BASF (Mount Olive, NJ); ADM Nutraceuticals (Decatur, IL); Rousselot, a Sobel Company (Waukesha, WI); Nashai (Nashville, TN); Kaneka Corporation (Osaka, Japan); Roche Vitamins, Inc. (Switzerland); Cognis Nutrition & Health (Cincinnati, OH); Pharmline (Florida, NY); Gelita North America (Sioux City, Iowa); Pharmachem Laboratories, Inc. (Kearny, NJ); Bioriginal Food & Science Corp. (Canada); and Nitta Gelatin (Rochelle Park, NJ). Banner plans to expand the symposium next year to include more international attendees and speakers.