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  • Writer's pictureMelanie

Vitamins and minerals for healthy menopause and beyond

Updated: Jul 11, 2023

October is Menopause Awareness Month and so this month in my blog I am looking at vitamin and mineral supplements that can be useful for all women aged 45 and over. We spend approximately a third of our lives post-menopause, so it is essential that we are getting the nutrition we need to support healthy ageing. During perimenopause and post-menopause, our oestrogen levels decline, along with other hormones in the body. This not only influences our menopausal symptoms but also affects our body systems over the rest of our lifetimes; skin, cardiovascular system, brain, thyroid, immune health and bones can all be compromised if we don’t get the nutrition we need.

packs of vitamin and mineral supplements

Supplements ARE NOT instead of a well-balanced diet, food should be our first port of call, always, but are useful where we are at risk of not having enough of what our bodies need. Vitamins and minerals for menopause should not be underestimated!

I take a dive into why Vitamin D, B12, E, C, and K are important, and why we need to get enough calcium, magnesium, zinc, iodine, selenium and omega 3.

Vitamin D: In my view, vitamin D is a wonder vit. Not only does it support our immune system, but it also supports bone health by encouraging the uptake of calcium from our diets for storage in our bones. Regular intake can help slow down bone mineral loss, associated with osteoporosis. It is important to take a vitamin D supplement during the autumn and winter months as our bodies make it when exposed to sunlight, and we just can’t make enough in those darker months. A vitamin D test from your GP can be useful to check your vitamin status.

Vitamin B12: B12 is required for a number of functions in the body, including maintenance of the nervous system, bone marrow, skin, mucous membranes, blood vessels and bone. As we age, it can be harder to obtain B12 from our food due to alterations of stomach acid levels. B12 is only available from animal products such as eggs, dairy, meat and oily fish. Anyone following a completely plant-based diet needs to supplement B12 regularly and those over 50 may also find it beneficial even if you eat animal products. I would recommend a B12 spray as it is in a more absorbable format.

Vitamin E: This vitamin protects cells from oxidative stress. It protects cell membranes, supports blood flow and can reduce cognitive decline. Food sources include apricots, almonds, hazelnuts, wheat germ and sunflower seeds. If you do not include these in your diet, it may be worth considering a supplement.

Vitamin C: Vitamin C alongside zinc is effective at reducing the symptoms of colds

white mug with a pair of glasses and a box of tissues

and flu. It also is an antioxidant, protecting cells from oxidative stress damage. It is known to support healing in the body. Aloe vera juice, currants, broccoli, brussels sprouts, parsley, peppers, pineapples, tomatoes and citrus fruits are all good sources. I would recommend having a vitamin C and zinc supplement in lozenge form for when cold or flu strikes.

Vitamin K: this plays an important role in both bone formation and blood clotting. There is research that shows it may also help to reduce the stiffening of arteries as we age. Vitamin K1 can be found in plant sources such as asparagus, cabbage, kale, lettuce, spinach, and oats. Vitamin K2 is synthesized by bacteria in our gut. Levels tend to be lower post-menopause, and so this is when a supplement may be considered useful.

Calcium: we all know that calcium is needed for bone health and that we are at increased risk of broken bones and osteoporosis without it. What most people are not aware of is that the more common sources of calcium in our diets – dairy such as milk, cheese and yoghurts are acidic and so may actually LOWER the amount of calcium in our bones as it is leached out in acidic conditions. Alternative sources are almonds, broccoli, buckwheat, leafy greens (although not spinach and chard as they cause a binding reaction), molasses, calcium-set tofu, calcium-enriched plant milk and turnips. Where your GP is concerned about your bone health, a calcium supplement may be recommended, this should not be taken within 4 hours of some medication such as levothyroxine, please make sure you check any medication.

young woman sleeping in daisies

Magnesium: This mineral is important in relaxation and sleep. It also supports parathyroid hormones and vitamin D levels, and so can affect calcium uptake! Good food sources include almonds, cashews, cocoa, eggs, figs, leafy greens, seeds, soya beans and molasses. If you struggle to relax and drop off to sleep, and magnesium sleep spray that is applied directly to the skin can be helpful.

Zinc: As mentioned above, zinc is important in fighting infection, and so is useful in times of cold and flu alongside vitamin C in lozenge format. It also plays a part in the production of osteoblasts, which are bone-building cells, and wound healing. Food sources include ginger (think hot water with lemon and ginger for a cold), whole grains, yeast, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, egg yolks, seafood and some meats.

Iodine and selenium: these are both important for thyroid health. Many women in peri- and post-menopause experience lowered thyroid function, with symptoms including tiredness, weight gain, loss of libido, constipation, muscle aches, low mood, changes to hair and skin and reduced cold tolerance. If you are concerned, visit your G.P. for a thyroid test. Sources of selenium include broccoli, Brazil nuts (but limit to 3 a day as too many can cause an overload of selenium), cashews, eggs, fish, shellfish and organ meats. Iodine sources include dairy products, cod, asparagus, mushrooms, seaweed, and oysters. If you do not consume these foods on a regular basis, supplementation may be worth considering.

Omega 3: Omega 3 is associated with many benefits, including mental health (especially improvement in anxiety and depression), eye health, brain health, reduced risk of heart disease, insulin resistance and inflammation. The best source of omega-3 is to eat fatty fish twice a week, e.g., salmon, mackerel, and sardines. However, if you don’t like these fish or don’t eat fish, a supplement is essential. If you are vegan or vegetarian, choose an algae-based supplement as this contains omega-3 in the format that the body needs. Alternatively, krill or fish oil supplements are available.

I hope that you found this article useful. If you would like me to review your health status and diet to see if it would be helpful to make dietary changes or to see if supplementation of vitamins and minerals for menopause might be useful, please contact me to book a free discovery call.

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