Endometriosis growing somewhere else other than the endometrium also reacts to hormonal signals of the monthly menstrual cycle by building up tissue, breaking it, and eliminating it through the menstrual period. As we know, nutritional supplements play a very important role in treating endometriosis. In this article, we will discuss how vitamins help to treat endometriosis.
A. Vitamin A
Vitamin A is a bi-polar molecule formed by bonds between carbon and hydrogen. It is a fat soluble vitamin. This means it can not be stored in the liver but it can be converted from beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant. Besides helping in treating endometriosis, it is also known to have strong effects in improving vision and enhancing bone growth.
II. The health effects
1. Vitamin A is a very powerful antioxidant that not only helps to strengthen the immune system, but also protects against the growth of endometriosis, according to the University of California, The combination of Simvastatin and Retinoic acid (RA), showed that Simvastatin potentiated an inhibitory effect of RA on growth of human endometrial stromal (HES) cells(1), probably through suppressing interleukin-6 production in human endometrial cells(5).
2. Vitamin A helps in regulating the gene expression by fighting against the forming of free radicals and protecting the body organs from abnormal growth of endometrial implants and adhesion, according to the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern, endometriotic stromal cells, cause decreased expression of these genes of that leads to decreased retinol uptake and dominant FABP5-mediated prosurvival activity(2).
3. Vitamin A working together with other antioxidants as well as functioning of protein synthesis and fatty acid metabolism reduced oxidative stress which is a component of the inflammatory reaction associated with endometriosis(4), according to Université Catholique de Louvain(3).
4. Iron is necessary for production of red blood cells that carry oxygen in the blood stream for the body’s cells(7). Women who have endometriosis with heavy blood loss during menstruation normally have iron deficiency because of loss of iron which is far greater than what the body can produce leading to anemia(8) as S-ferritin levels were inversely correlated with the duration of menstrual bleeding. Intake of vitamin A and iron will increase the production of red blood cells far better than taking iron supplements alone(9).
Remember, overloading on zinc or iron is toxic to our body and may induce endometriosis(6). Please make sure to talk to your doctor for the correct amount.
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(1) Effects of simvastatin on retinoic acid system in primary human endometrial stromal cells and in a chimeric model of human endometriosis by Sokalska A1, Anderson M, Villanueva J, Ortega I, Bruner-Tran KL, Osteen KG, Duleba AJ.(PubMed)
(2) Altered retinoid uptake and action contributes to cell survival in endometriosis by Pavone ME1, Reierstad S, Sun H, Milad M, Bulun SE, Cheng YH.(PubMed)
(3) Oxidative stress and peritoneal endometriosis by Van Langendonckt A1, Casanas-Roux F, Donnez J.(PubMed)
(4) Women with endometriosis improved their peripheral antioxidant markers after the application of a high antioxidant diet by Mier-Cabrera J1, Aburto-Soto T, Burrola-Méndez S, Jiménez-Zamudio L, Tolentino MC, Casanueva E, Hernández-Guerrero C.(PubMed)
(5) Retinoic acid suppresses interleukin-6 production in human endometrial cells by Sawatsri S1, Desai N, Rock JA, Sidell N.(PubMed)
(6) The role of iron in the pathogenesis of endometriosis by Kobayashi H1, Yamada Y, Kanayama S, Furukawa N, Noguchi T, Haruta S, Yoshida S, Sakata M, Sado T, Oi H.(PubMed)
(7) Insights into iron and nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kappaB) involvement in chronic inflammatory processes in peritoneal endometriosis by Defrère S1, González-Ramos R, Lousse JC, Colette S, Donnez O, Donnez J, Van Langendonckt A.(PubMed)
(8) Iron status in 268 Danish women aged 18-30 years: influence of menstruation, contraceptive method, and iron supplementation by bMilman N1, Clausen J, Byg KE.(PubMed|)
(9) Iron deficiency and anemia are associated with low retinol levels in children aged 1 to 5 years by Saraiva BC1, Soares MC1, Santos LC1, Pereira SC1, Horta PM2.(PubMed)