Ten Important Nutrients for Menopause

One of the most common questions I get asked is what supplements I recommend for menopause. Answer? Totally depends…where in the menopause transition are you? What are your symptoms? But first – let’s talk about your current diet and lifestyle.

The truth is, there is no magic bullet for menopause. No supplement or HRT prescription is going to magic away every symptom and associated health risk. So I ALWAYS take a food-first approach. I tweak diets, focus on specific foods/nutrients and then see where extra support may be required.

It is also impossible to make blanket recommendations about supplements (or even foods) for supporting midlife women as we are all SO different and will therefore experience menopause in our own unique and colourful way! However, there are a few nutrients that work hard for midlife women, helping balance hormones, reduce menopause symptoms, and protect against chronic conditions common in post-menopause.

If you are considering supplementation it is essential to consume high-quality products to ensure they contain well-absorbed and utilised active ingredients alongside minimal additives. This should be discussed with an appropriately qualified nutrition professional, who will be able to guide you towards the most appropriate for you without breaking the bank!

Please note: The opinions expressed in this blog are solely my own. I am not a primary healthcare professional or GP and this blog is not intended to be a substitute or replacement for professional medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns about your health you should consult your doctor. I have not been paid for the inclusion of any products mentioned in this post. They are simply examples of available supplements and should not be considered personalised recommendations.

10 Nutrients to Support Menopausal Health

B Vitamins for Menopause

B vitamins are often called the ‘stress’ vitamins because they play an important role in supporting the nervous and endocrine systems, particularly the adrenal glands. During perimenopause the adrenal glands start to take over the production of oestrogen as the ovaries can no longer do so. Therefore it is vital to give them a little TLC, as if they are under stress, they may not produce oestrogen efficiently. B vitamins are found in a diverse range of foods, however, in our highly stressful modern times, it can be difficult to consume the levels of B vitamins required to support the body.

Food sources: Salmon, leafy greens, organ meats, eggs, dairy, beef, seafood, legumes, chicken and turkey, nutritional and brewers yeast, pork, fortified cereals, trout and sunflower seeds.

Supplement tip: There are eight B vitamins including B12, B6, folate and thiamine which work best together, so unless you have been diagnosed with a B12 deficiency, it is best to take a vitamin B complex or a multi-product containing all the B vitamins (most do).

Vitamin D for Menopause

Many individuals are low in vitamin D regardless of where they live. I live in Spain – I have low vitamin D….go figure. Sub-optimal levels have been linked with low mood, muscle aches, and lowered immunity – all symptoms commonly experienced during menopause. The darker your skin, the lower your levels may be, as higher melanin (skin pigment) acts like natural sunscreen to reduce vitamin D production.

Food sources: Cod liver oil, salmon, swordfish, tuna, sardines, beef liver, fortified orange juice/dairy and plant milks, vitamin D enhanced mushrooms. Note: to increase the vitamin D content of mushrooms place them on a windowsill (inside or outside) in the midday sun for 15-20 minutes. Mushrooms can then be stored and cooked as normal. I know – that’s wizardry right!

Supplement tip: It is advisable to check vitamin D levels with your GP before supplementing as excess intake is potentially dangerous. If levels are low you may wish to supplement in the autumn and winter months. Take alongside vitamin K2 which helps calcium absorption and bone mineral density. I like BetterYou vitamin D sprays.

Vitamin E for Menopause

Research has shown vitamin E supports the body through stress, reduces free radical damage and may help reduce risk of depression and heart disease. It has also been linked to a reduction in hot flushes and vaginal dryness.

Food sources: Wheat-germ oil, nuts and seeds (especially their oils e.g. sunflower), Salmon, avocado, trout, red pepper, mango, turnip greens and kiwi.

Supplement tip: Adequate vitamin E can usually be obtained from a varied whole-food diet. Taking too much can be harmful as it is stored in the body. Vitamin E would generally only be taken as part of a multi-nutrient product.

Calcium and Magnesium for Menopause

You get a ‘twofer’ here as calcium and magnesium work so closely in the body it’s hard to separate them out. They are both essential minerals for bone health and therefore vital at menopause. Magnesium is also known as ‘nature’s tranquilliser’, so can support symptoms such as anxiety, irritability and sleep disturbances. It is estimated that around 70% of us are deficient in magnesium. Calcium is also important for healthy heart rhythm, blood pressure, normal blood clotting, muscle contraction and relaxation and proper functioning of the nervous system.

Food sources of magnesium: Dark chocolate, avocado, nuts, seeds, pulses, tofu, whole grains, fatty fish, bananas and leafy green vegetables.

Food sources of calcium: Seeds, cheese, milk, yoghurt, sardines and tinned salmon, beans, lentils, almonds, leafy greens, rhubarb, fortified foods, soybeans and figs.

Supplement tips: Look for highly-absorbable forms of magnesium (it will specify type on the product bottle) such as glycinate, lysinate, taurate, aspartate or malate (particularly good for aching muscles). Magnesium citrate is great if you suffer from constipation and are focused on relaxation. Transdermal magnesium is also very well absorbed (sprayed onto the skin). Caution: do not take more than the recommended dose of magnesium as it can lead to loose stools….VERY loose stools. Calcium is easily obtained through the diet and supplementation at too high levels may reduce magnesium in the body so it is not usually advised unless it’s absolutely necessary. However, the two minerals are usually found together in balanced amounts in most Menopause nutrient complexes. Although not specifically designed for menopause, I love ITL Health’s Mag365 BF plus Calcium not only for bone health but also for aiding sleep – it’s horse tranquiliser good.

Zinc for Menopause

Zinc is essential for hormone balance and helps regulate the female menstrual cycle. It also supports our stress response so may minimise fluctuations in cortisol levels which can impact production of oestrogen and progesterone. Additionally, zinc helps modulate inflammation – a key factor in many menopause symptoms.

Food sources: Oysters, lamb, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, grass-fed beef, chickpeas, lentils, cocoa powder, cashews, kefir / plain yoghurt, ricotta cheese, mushrooms, spinach, avocado, chicken, almonds and eggs.

Supplement tip: Check the type of zinc in a supplement. Highly absorbable types include zinc citrate, picolinate or bisgylcinate. They should be taken with a meal as consuming zinc supplements on an empty stomach can cause nausea. Trust me – I have first-hand experience. Taking high levels of zinc (more than 80 mg) for more than three months can deplete copper (another essential mineral) levels in the body.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids for Menopause

Omega 3 fats are important for the health of every cell of the body but are particularly beneficial for supporting brain health and cognition (midlife brain fog, anyone?), heart and eye health, and skin structure. We cannot make this type of fat in the body so must obtain it through diet or supplementation. Common symptoms of omega-3 deficiency include dry skin, limp hair, cracked nails, fatigue, low mood, dry eyes, lack of motivation, aching joints, difficulty losing weight, forgetfulness and breast pain – mmmm….this all sounds very familiar. Did we not just describe menopause here?

Food sources: Oily fish (including salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines and anchovies), caviar, cod liver oil, oysters, seeds, nuts and soybeans. There are smaller amounts in sea greens and green vegetables.

Supplement tip: Most supplements are fish based. Look for a product with high levels of the active ingredients EPA and DHA, such as Biocare Mega EPA. Store in the refrigerator,or a cool/dark place and take with food. If you are vegan or vegetarian you can take an algae-based supplement such as Cytoplan’s Omega 3 Vegan.

Protein for Menopause

After the age of 40 our ability to utilise protein from food efficiently decreases. Read my blog ‘How Important is Protein for Midlife Women?’ to find out more. Protein provides ‘amino acids’ which are the basic structural and functional building blocks of all cells, hormones, tissues and organs. New amino acids are in constant demand to help repair and maintain everyday wear and tear in all systems.

Food sources: Eggs, nuts, seeds, nut and seed butters, red and white meat, fish, cottage cheese, greek yoghurt, lentils, quinoa and shellfish.

Supplement tip: Whilst we can obtain protein from food, if you are very active or struggle to obtain the protein you need on some days then a good quality protein powder can be a great way to top-up intake. A high-quality powder will often also contain additional really useful antioxidants and other micronutrients. I like Garden of Life’s Raw Organic Protein range. There are also some lovely new menopause-focused protein powders such as Bomimo MenoShakes which contain vegan sources of protein alongside multiple phytonutrients including phytoestrogens. They are pretty much a one stop shop for your menopause nutrient needs….or close to it anyway.

Please note: Individuals with a history of breast cancer should avoid soy-based protein powders and speak to a qualified nutrition professional regarding phytoestrogen consumption.

Probiotics for Menopause

Gut health is vital for overall health and helps support all systems of the body. Research has discovered a special subset of gut bacteria, called the estrobolome, which play a crucial role in detoxifying and eliminating hormones, including oestrogen and progesterone. If gut bacteria are out of balance and digestive symptoms such as constipation occur, it can result in hormones (most notably oestrogen) being reabsorbed into the bloodstream, which can heighten menopausal symptoms. The gut is also responsible for making and helping balance neurotransmitters, such as serotonin (associated with happiness), dopamine, and melatonin, all of which influence mood and sleep.

Food sources: Live yoghurt, kefir, fermented foods and drinks (sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, miso, natto, kombucha, pickles), buttermilk and unpasteurised cheeses.

Supplement tip: I believe consuming probiotics foods on a daily basis is the most cost-effective and best way to consume a wide variety of probiotics. However, additional supplements may be helpful after illness or antibiotic use – choose a product with several billion bacteria and multiple different strains such as Udo’s Choice Adult 50+ Microbiotics.

Phytoestrogens for Menopause

Phytoestrogens are plant-based compounds that mimic oestrogen in the body and therefore help support health when oestrogen levels start to dip. More generally they help balance all reproductive hormones, and therefore may reduce symptoms such as hot flushes. Phytoestrogens have also been studied extensively for their effect on balancing cholesterol and may be protective against heart disease, one of the major health concerns after menopause.

Food sources: Soy, flax seeds, sesame seeds, wheat, berries, oats, barley, dried beans, lentils, rice, alfalfa, mung beans, apples and carrots.

Supplement tip: Many ‘menopause’ focused supplements contain phytoestrogens, such as NHP’s Meno Herbal Support or the protein powders mentioned above.

Please note: Individuals with a history of breast cancer should avoid soy-based protein powders and speak to a qualified nutrition professional regarding phytoestrogen consumption.

Adaptogens for Menopause

Adaptogens are plant-based, naturally occurring ingredients that improve the body’s ability to adapt to the stressors of life by supporting hormonal balance. They provide a “normalising” effect on bodily processes that are susceptible to dysregulation – giving a little tweak here and there if a hormone is too high or too low. More wizardry! Studies show that menopause symptoms such as night sweats and hot flashes, as well as brain fog, insomnia, fatigue, vaginal dryness, slowed metabolism, and mood changes, occur due to fluctuating hormone levels – so bring on those tweaks.

Food sources: Turmeric, matcha, mushrooms, cocoa, cinnamon and ginger.

Supplement tip: Many menopause-focused complexes will contain a variety of adaptogenic herbs, like the NHP and Bomimo products already covered above.

What are your favourite menopause foods, nutrients, recipes and supplements? Please share in the comments.

If you like what you’ve read and would like more practical information and tips on nutrition, lifestyle and mindset for midlife women then I’d love it if you followed me at motherflushingmidlife at the social links below. And if anyone you know might benefit from my content, let them know where to find me xx

About me

Hi, I’m Suzanne, midlifer, Transformational Coach and Nutritional Therapist.

As a midlife and menopause coach I work with women ready to prioritise their needs, be proactive with their wellbeing and navigate towards the bright and vibrant future they deserve.

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