The most important vitamins and minerals for before, during and after the menopause

menopause, mature woman touching sweater and having hot flash

Menopause affects us all in different ways.

Some of us struggle with mood swings and the emotional impact of losing our reproductive abilities, whilst others may experience aches and pains, sleep problems, hot flushes or headaches. But although all of our experiences with the menopause are different, there’s one thing that’s the same for all women; our bodies and minds are going through significant change.

So how can we help ease these symptoms and make the menopause more manageable? 

This is an area I’ve researched for quite some time now, and I’ve found that one straight-forward way to help boost your health and wellbeing is to make simple dietary changes. The following 8 vitamins and minerals are not only extremely beneficial when it comes to easing menopausal symptoms, but are also 100% natural and easy to implement. 

  1. A nice cup of golden milk – Curcumin (the active ingredient found in turmeric) has a range of powerful antioxidant properties, from tackling sun spots, wrinkles and signs of aging to sharpening the mind and also boosting your mood. Its anti-inflammatory properties also help keep the joints healthy, preventing issues such as arthritis (which can be triggered by the menopause). Simply add some turmeric to milk to make delicious golden milk and also to food such as stews, curries and even pancakes!

It’s important to note, though, that turmeric is poorly absorbed by the body. Therefore supplements with added black pepper can be extremely beneficial in increasing absorption by up to 2000%. If you’re looking to up your intake of Turmeric, I’d definitely recommend always taking it alongside black pepper or taking a supplement containing the two.

100% natural Curcumin supplements – Formulate Health

  1. Tuck into some chocolate – ‘Chocolate? Helpful? During the menopause?!’ Yeah! Believe it or not, dark chocolate is high in magnesium which is an essential nutrient our bodies need to balance stress hormones, oestrogen levels and serotonin, making it extremely important for mood and sleep. Magnesium is also found in nuts, seeds, whole grains and oats which can be mixed together to make a delicious homemade granola.

Magnesium can also be found in leafy greens, avocados and fish, or if you struggle to get enough from diet alone, it will work wonderfully in supplement form at bedtime to help promote a restful night’s sleep.

  1. Don’t forget your Vitamin D – This vitamin is produced naturally by the skin when exposed to sunlight. However during the winter months, it can be really difficult to get enough of it. This is why I recommend taking a daily supplement during these months. Vitamin D is absolutely essential for maintaining a healthy immune system, healthy bones, preventing diabetes and promoting heart health, making it the perfect supplement for those over the age of 40. 

In the UK, it’s almost impossible to get enough Vitamin D during the winter months, so I’d definitely recommend supplementing from around November till February. 

  1. Factor in your 5 a day – From supporting the function of the immune system to encouraging collagen formation, helping maintain healthy bones and teeth, and promoting iron absorption; Vitamin C really does have it all. However, this nutrient is water soluble, which means our bodies do not store it, and therefore we need a regular supply. 

Citrus fruits and leafy greens are great sources of Vitamin C, as is an Indian berry called Amla, which is the second richest source of this vitamin and has fantastic antioxidant properties such as protecting the skin from damage and inhibiting melanin production which helps to even out skin tone. Vitamin C also plays key role in iron absorption, thyroid health and progesterone production, making it a great choice for postmenopausal women. 

You should be able to get enough Vitamin C from your diet, however if you’re not a huge fan of fruit and veg it may be a good idea to start taking a supplement. 

  1. Probiotic power – If your menopausal symptoms are causing you to suffer from digestive issues, yeast infections or feelings of sluggishness and low energy, I’d definitely recommend upping your intake of probiotics. Commonly found in fermented foods such as yoghurts, probiotics are live microorganisms which provide vaginal and digestive support. As well as eating probiotic rich foods, it can be useful to take supplements containing probiotics and prebiotics which help to activate live bacteria in the body which can provide a number of health benefits. 

You can get enough probiotics from your diet – as long as you eat enough of the right types of food. Again, if fermented foods aren’t your favourite, a supplement will do a great job at ensuring you’re getting the perfect amount. 

  1. Oily fish for hot flashes – Omega-3 has been found to reduce the severity of hot flashes in menopausal women, as well as reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, helping to prevent the onset of dementia and may even be able to promote weight loss due to its ability to increase the metabolism. This nutrient can be found in various types of oily fish, nuts, seeds and plant-based oils. 

Most people should be able to get enough Omega-3 from food sources. However if you follow a plant-based diet or have certain allergies to aversions to these foods, supplements are likely to be a much better option for you. 

  1. Give Ashwagandha a go – If you suffer from anxiety, depression, inflammation or high blood pressure, this ancient herb is likely to work wonders for you, particularly during the menopause. Coming from a type of tree, grown only in the Middle East and parts of Africa, Ashwagandha has been used for centuries to help improve pain, reduce stress and lower blood pressure. 

This herb is mostly only found in supplement form here in the UK, and cannot be obtained from food. 

  1. Don’t skip on Selenium – Last but definitely not least is Selenium. This essential mineral can be found in foods such as seafood, whole grains and nuts, and is a powerful antioxidant which helps cells in the body fight oxidative stress and defend themselves from chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancers, Alzheimer’s and premature ageing.

Selenium is found in a wide variety of foods so you should be able to get enough of this antioxidant from food alone. Although if you feel that you may be deficient in Selenium, it may be a good idea to talk to your pharmacist or doctor about the possibility of supplementing. 

If you’re struggling with symptoms of the menopause, I hope these tips will help ease them, as well as improve your mood and get you feeling yourself again. 

Mina KhanAbout the author

Mina Khan has a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to helping women to improve their health and wellbeing during all stages of life including the menopause. After working as a pharmacist for over 25 years, she launched her own range of nutraceuticals, Formulate Health which consists of powerful 100% natural supplements that help treat a vast array of health conditions. 

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