The vitamin pack includes vitamin A, iodine, and other supplements.
There’s no doubt that menopause can be a difficult time for many women.
The condition, which occurs when your menstrual periods permanently stop, can be emotionally and physically draining for many.
Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle brand, Goop, recently launched a vitamin and supplement pack for menopausal women called Madame Ovary in an effort to change the way we think about menopause.
According to Goop’s website, the supplement is designed to provide support for common menopause complaints, such as hot flashes and mood swings.
It’s filled with essential heavy metals, such as zinc, copper, and selenium, along with vitamin A, omega-3 fatty acids, and natural herbs.
But some health experts aren’t so sure about the vitamin pack. In fact, many believe that Madame Ovary might do more harm than good.
During menopause, hormone levels plummet, predominantly estrogen, causing many women to experience debilitating symptoms. These can include hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety, weight gain, fatigue, and a decreased libido.
It’s common for symptoms to kick in around ages 40 or 50, but some see them as early as their mid-30s. And while some women transition through menopause quite easily, others experience it for years.
Many health experts believe that adding vitamins can help alleviate some of these symptoms. But what and how many vitamins you should take greatly varies from person to person.
I do not believe that one big packet of pills — Goop’s regimen is a ton of pills! — is the answer for anyone. Rather, a personalized multivitamin that is tailored to the individual is a much safer and medically sound approach,” Dr. Arielle Levitan, an internist in the Chicago area and co-founder of Vous Vitamin, said.
We all have different vitamin needs. Depending on your diet, lifestyle, and any other health concerns, what you should or shouldn’t take will vary.
For example, if you’re vegetarian, you may need more iron and vitamin B-12. If you live in a northern state with limited sun exposure, you may benefit from taking a vitamin D supplement.
For health experts, one of the red flags in Goop’s new vitamin pack is the presence of vitamin A.
The nutrient is responsible for boosting immune function and supporting healthy bones and skin. But too much vitamin A from supplements can become toxic.
Previous research has indicated that excessive doses of vitamin A is linked to osteoporosis and brittle bones in people with higher risk of fractures.
Low doses of vitamin A were also associated with increased risk, although less risk than in people with excessive doses of the vitamin.
According to Goop, the amount of vitamin A in Madame Ovary — which is sourced from beta carotene — is perfectly safe when consumed as directed on the label.
“The modest amount of beta carotene in Madame Ovary is combined with a moderate amount of preformed vitamin A, so there are no safety or toxicity issues with the dose of vitamin A in the product,” Susan Beck, PhD, senior vice president of science and research at Goop, told Healthline.
Still, though, some health experts argue that because beta carotene is found in many food sources — like carrots, eggs, and sweet potatoes — there’s no need to take it as a supplement.
And more of something isn’t always better.
“The vast majority of Americans are not vitamin A deficient. I believe the risks of taking it as a supplement outweigh any potential benefit,” Levitan said.
Vitamin A isn’t the only ingredient worrying health experts.
While iodine can be useful in supporting thyroid function, taking too much can increase symptoms of anxiety, heart palpitations, and feeling excessively hot.
Most people in the United States get enough iodine from foods and beverages, says the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and iodine deficiency is uncommon.
The average daily recommended amount of iodine for adults is 150 micrograms (mcg), states the NIH. Healthy women shouldn’t need more than 200 mcg of iodine a day, Levitan says.
Each Madame Ovary pack includes 225 mcg of iodine.
While it could potentially trigger unwanted side effects in some women, it’s still lower than the 1,100 mcg of iodine that’s considered the high end for adult consumption, according to the NIH.
Madame Ovary also includes a mix of heavy metals to further support the thyroid: copper, zinc, and selenium.
Not only is there no great need for women to be taking these, Levitan notes, but excessive amounts of heavy metals can cause health problems.
Our bodies only need trace amounts of copper, for example, much of which we can get naturally from foods such as potatoes, beans, and whole grains. Copper toxicity has been linked to liver damage along with heart and kidney failure.
Goop assured us that the amounts of heavy metals in Madame Ovary are minimal and, therefore, decidedly safe.
“Madame Ovary provides nutritionally essential heavy metals that when taken in the right amounts, help to support normal healthy biological functions,” Beck told Healthline.
When it comes to heavy metals, the key is moderation.
Too much or too little of anything can be harmful. That’s why it’s so important to talk to your doctor before starting any vitamin regimen to determine what your body needs — or doesn’t need.
Vitamin packs like Goop’s can be problematic if you have a preexisting health condition or take other medications.
Certain herbal supplements, like danshen, primrose, or ginseng, can negatively interact with heart medications. In some cases, they can be life-threatening, says the Mayo Clinic.
In addition, black cohash, which is an herb included in Madame Ovary to treat mood swings, can impact the effectiveness of certain cholesterol medications and increase the toxicity of chemotherapy drugs, states the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
“Many herbal supplements can interfere with the metabolism and effectiveness of medications, especially blood thinners, and should be considered with caution and doctor’s input,” said Dr. Alyssa Dweck, a practicing gynecologist at CareMount Medical in Westchester, New York.
“Check with your healthcare provider to ensure supplements don’t interfere with other very necessary medications or medical conditions,” Dweck added.
In general, there’s no substitute for a healthy diet and regular exercise, health experts agree.
“Women with a ‘perfect diet’ should not need a vitamin supplement to extend their lives,” Dweck said. “This comes with many caveats, of course, particularly since most don’t have a perfect diet.”
She advises her clients to follow the Mediterranean diet — a meal plan that emphasizes plant-based and unprocessed foods — and get approximately 150 minutes of physical activity per week.
On top of that, make sure you’re getting enough sleep and keeping up with routine preventive healthcare, including mammograms, colonoscopies, and immunizations.
All in all, this is a time in life to start building healthy habits to support and improve your transition into older adulthood.
Health experts are skeptical Goop’s new vitamin pack is right for all menopausal women. They advise women to talk to their healthcare providers about which supplements or vitamins they actually need and to take these supplements in moderation.
Too much of a vitamin can make a healthy habit toxic.