Fibrocystic changes in the breasts are common for women in their reproductive years. Fibrocystic breasts feel ropy, lumpy, bumpy and tender, and these changes may be most noticeable just before menstruation. Certain vitamins may be helpful in alleviating fibrocystic breast symptoms. Before taking vitamins, consult with a nutritionally-trained health care provider for an appropriate diagnosis and a personalized treatment plan.
Vitamin E may be helpful for fibrocystic breasts. According to Dr. Tori Hudson, a naturopathic physician and author of the "Women's Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine," vitamin E is regularly used to treat breast disease that is benign, or non-cancerous. Not all studies show that vitamin E has a significant effect on fibrocystic breasts, but some have demonstrated relief of the breast pain or tenderness that's associated with fibrocystic changes. Dr. Hudson recommends taking vitamin E for at least two months to evaluate its efficacy. Vitamin E has eight different antioxidant forms, and the form most maintained in the body is the natural -- not synthetic -- form, d-alpha tocopherol. D-alpha tocopherol is available as a supplement, and it may also be found in vegetable oils, nuts, whole grains and green leafy vegetables.
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Vitamin A has shown promise in alleviating fibrocystic breast symptoms. Dr. Hudson reports that the breast tissue contains receptors for vitamin A that affect DNA and reduce the risk of both benign and harmful breast changes. It appears that high doses of vitamin A may be required for alleviation of fibrocystic breast symptoms, and this may not be practical for all women. High levels of vitamin A can lead to side effects, such as headache and dryness of the skin and mouth. Also, vitamin A should not be taken in pregnancy. Beta-carotene is an alternative, because it provides vitamin A but doesn't seem to have negative side effects. Beta-carotene can be found in yellow and orange fruits and vegetables. Other food sources of vitamin A include cod liver oil, eggs, butter and milk. Vitamin A is also available as a supplement, in the forms of retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate and beta-carotene.
Vitamin B-6 has three forms: pyridoxal, pyridoxine and pyridoxamine. According to Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center at Oregon State University, pyridoxal 5'-phosphate, the principal coenzyme form of vitamin B-6, is essential for a large number of chemical reactions in the body. Vitamin B-6 is important for the function of the brain, nerves, heart, red blood cells, immune system and hormones. Fibrocystic breast changes can result from both digestive and hormonal factors, and vitamin B-6 helps regulate these systems. Vitamin B-6 is available as a supplement, either alone or as part of a B-complex. Vitamin B-6 is also present in bananas, salmon, turkey, chicken, potatoes and spinach.