Do we need supplements in the menopause?
Menopause may come with a whole range of intestinal issues that can affect absorption of essential vitamins and nutrients in natural foods. Menopausal women may also not be taking adequate natural foods due to personal preferences, financial reasons, religious issues (e.g. fasting for certain prayers), medical problems and in attempts at losing weight and dieting.
Compounded by the loss of estrogen and progesterone, these vital and essential vitamins can cause further deterioration of signs and symptoms of the menopause.
Vitamin E is found in nuts, sunflower seeds, spinach, broccoli, and tomato.
Unbalanced hormones in the menopause can change cortisol levels, which then increases stress. When the body is short of antioxidants, there is an increase in free radicals which further damages cells. This also occurs in smokers.
Vitamin E has a role in reducing oxidative stress and helps repair cells through its anti-oxidant properties. It also has a role in depression.
Topical Vitamin E has also been shown to help vaginal lubrication.
Menopause is associated with bone loss and osteoporosis. At menopause, absorption of calcium drops by 50%.
Average recommendation of calcium for women after menopause is 1200 mgs/day. This can be from food sources, calcium tablets or a combination of both. Unfortunately dairy products may increase weight in menopausal women. Also many women may become lactose tolerant in the menopause restricting their intake of natural calcium.
Different calcium preparations have different absorption rates. Calcium carbonate has the maximum absorption rates at 40-50%.
Vitamin D is a vitamin that is produced in the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Along with calcium, it is essential for bone health and prevention of osteoporosis.
Vitamin D levels can be checked via a simple blood test. Excessive Vitamin D can lead to kidney stones, increased cardiovascular problems and constipation.
600 IU of vitamin D is advised daily.
Vitamin B especially B12 is essential for menopausal women. Vitamin B tends to be depleted in the menopause causing fatigue, insomnia and irritability. Women over 50 need 2.4 mcg of vitamin B12 each day.
Vitamin B6 helps make antibodies, improves nerves , breaks down proteins and is said to keep blood sugar within normal ranges. There is also a link with depression and confusion with B6 deficiency. Women over 50 need 1.5 mgs of vitamin B6 each day.