The menopause is a natural part of ageing that usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age. To be ‘diagnosed’ as going though the menopause, then you must not have had a period for at least 12 months. In the UK, the average age for a woman to reach the menopause is 51. With HRT being such a fight to get and not working for everyone, I’m interested in whether vitamins & supplements for Menopause can help.
Interestingly when women talk about going through the menopause, then usually this is actually the perimenopause: the years when your hormones start to fluctuate, but you are still having periods.
Also interestingly the NHS do not refer to ‘perimenopause’ at all…
Symptoms of Perimenopause / Menopause
The symptoms of perimenopause/menopause are due to the hormone fluctuations happening to you. Some women won’t have any symptoms, but most will. And for some women, symptoms can be severe enough to affect their everyday lives. Everyone’s experience will be different, but common symptoms include:
- changes to your menstrual cycle
- hot flushes and/or night sweats
- memory problems (brain fog)
- headaches & dizziness
- depression & mood swings
- difficulty sleeping
- weight gain
- vaginal dryness
- loss of libido
A great site to see some of the more uncommon symptoms of the menopause is Meg’s Menopause. Not only can you search by symptom, but it also advises what can help. It was a lightbulb moment when I first saw this list, as I was suffering with pretty much all of them, but had never connected the dots.
It took me several years to realise I was perimenopausal, as my initial symptoms weren’t the ‘common’ symptoms. A good 3 years of (male) doctors telling me until my periods stopped they couldn’t do anything. To then have confirmed in a 10 minute telephone call, during lockdown, with female doctor and get HRT prescribed, and they have been great ever since. However I don’t want to rely on just HRT and want to look at exercise and diet as a way of helping.
As a working mum of three boys, then exercise tends to take a back seat (how I’d love to get back to the gym). And as one of my most severe symptoms is dietary allergies/intolerances then I’m really interested in looking at how to change my diet to help.
Vitamins & Supplements for Menopause
An immediate and good start is to take a specific multivitamin for women or the menopause. These tend to include vitamins B5, B6, B12 which are especially good for the perimenopause.
Magnesium is a fantastic supplement for alleviating sleep problems. It helps relax muscles and promotes a deeper sleep, while also balancing blood sugar levels.
Foods that contain Magnesium include:
- Cocoa / Dark Chocolate
- Chia Seeds
- Brazil Nuts
It’s difficult for the body to get enough vitamin D from diet alone, even for people who aren’t going through menopause. Vitamin D helps to increase Oestrogen levels which maintain good bone density. It’s recommended that we all take vitamin D supplements during the autumn and winter months, as in the summer your body naturally makes vitamin D from being exposed to sunlight. Women aged 19 to 50 should get 600 IU vitamin D daily.
Foods that contain vitamin D include:
- fatty fish
- fish liver oils
- beef liver
- egg yolks
- fortified foods
Omega 3 fish oils are a good supplement to incorporate into your diet, providing anti-inflammatory and joint health support. They can also help with memory and cognitive health.
Foods that contain Omega 3 include:
- Chia Seeds
Calcium is a mineral that plays a vital role in maintaining healthy bones, it can be found in:
- Green leafy vegetables
- Soy based products
Calcium is found in both low-fat dairy products, as well as full fat ones. The recommended daily dose of calcium for adult women is 700 milligrams of calcium a day. However, taking too much (over 1,500 milligrams) of calcium a day can upset your stomach or bowel.
There are also a couple of things that should be avoided or reduced as much as possible during perimenopause/menopause to help too:
- Processed foods
All these can worsen symptoms and increase cortisol, which can lead to further hormonal imbalance and disrupt sleep. Sorry!
So I’m off to go and stock up on vitamins and supplements and figure out the foods I need to eat to help too. I hope this helps any of you in the same position as me! And if you need to offload, then I’m here. It really isn’t easy but we are all in the same boat #strongertogether