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Do You Need IV Vitamins?

My physician recommends intravenous vitamin therapy for women's health issues (fatigue, hot flashes, improving memory).  Do you agree with this approach? If not, could it be harmful?

Answer (Published 1/11/2007)

I do not agree that intravenous vitamin (IV) therapy is needed for the hot flashes, fatigue and memory problems associated with menopause. In fact, other than the use of IV vitamin C for surgical wound healing, there is almost never an indication for IV vitamins.

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The vitamins I suggest for women experiencing menopausal symptoms should be taken by mouth. They include vitamin E in the form of mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols (400 IU or 80 mg daily), which can help relieve hot flashes, and B vitamins, which can help women cope with stress, including the stress of unpleasant menopausal symptoms. I would recommend a B50 complex with 400 mcg of folic acid, and a B100 complex if stress levels are very high.

Other nutritional approaches that may relieve menopausal symptoms include the following:

  • Soy foods. The isoflavones in soy foods help balance hormone levels and have some estrogenic activity. Research on the safety and efficacy of isolated soy isoflavone supplements is ongoing. While the initial results look promising, I currently recommend using whole soy foods rather than supplements. Choose from tofu, soy milk, roasted soy nuts, edamame, or tempeh.
  • Freshly ground flaxseed. Phytoestrogenic compounds (lignans) in flaxseed are effective modulators of hormone metabolism. Grind flaxseed every few days in an electric grinder and use one to two tablespoons a day. (Store unused portion in the refrigerator.)
  • Dong quai. Dong quai (Angelica sinensis) is known both in China and the West for its ability to support and maintain the natural balance of female hormones. It does not have estrogenic activity. Don’t take dong quai if you are experiencing heavy bleeding.
  • Black cohosh (Cumicifuga racemosa). Black cohosh seems to work by supporting and maintaining levels of certain female hormones, which may lessen the severity of hot flashes.
  • Evening primrose oil or black currant oil. These sources of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an essential fatty acid, can reduce inflammation and help moderate menopausal symptoms.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

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