“How can I get off sugar and how bad will it be?”
We’ve all dealt with a sweet tooth at some point. Although eating processed foods can be tasty and enjoyable, what you eat substantially impacts your health. This is particularly relevant during menopause, as your diet can affect your symptoms.
Before seeking out vitamin and mineral supplements to help with your menopause symptoms, you should ensure you’re getting as much nutrition from your diet as possible. This is known as a food first approach and it’s a key component of a healthy lifestyle.
Let’s go over the variety of vitamins and minerals that play important roles in your health and symptoms during menopause.
Common vitamins and minerals that help with menopause symptoms
Foods high in vitamin C include:
- Red pepper
- Citrus fruit (including orange and grapefruit)
- Brussels sprouts
An immune system star, vitamin C is known for its beneficial effect in preventing illness and serving as an antioxidant. Vitamin C promotes adrenal function and reducing oxidative stress, during menopause this can help with reducing hot flushes.
Bioflavonoids are bioactive compounds known for having anti-inflammatory properties and aiding in blood circulation—they’re associated with vitamin C, as they’re often present together in foods like citrus fruits. This winning combination is especially helpful for reducing menopause hot flushes (1).
For women not on HRT, there’s evidence that supplementing with vitamin C in early postmenopausal years is associated with higher bone mineral density, as it enhances gut absorption of calcium and helps with offsetting bone loss that comes with aging (2).
Foods high in vitamin E include:
- Sunflower seeds
Vitamin E supports cardiovascular health, also greatly assisting in relieving vasomotor symptoms of menopause—hot flushes (1, 3).
Feeling dry down there? Vitamin E may also help with that. Research has found that vitamin E vaginal suppositories may be an alternative to vaginal estrogen in relieving symptoms of genitourinary syndrome (4, 5).
Foods high in B vitamins:
- Beef liver
- Nutritional yeast
The family of B vitamins includes folate (B9), B2, B6, and B12. These all help with promoting proper cognitive function and cardiovascular health (6).
Known as the “anti-stress” vitamin, the B group helps with regulating mood, sleep, eating habits, and pain (1). This can be really helpful for improving low mood, depression, and insomnia during menopause.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids:
- Fish and seafood (especially cold-water fatty fish)
- Chia seeds
These essential fatty acids are an important dietary component known to reduce depressive symptoms and hot flushes in menopausal women (7). Omega-3 fatty acids also help with preventing the stiffening of arteries and relieving joint issues—both problems that can arise with menopause and age (8-10).
Foods high in magnesium include:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Chia seeds
- Black beans
Magnesium is an important mineral for maintaining optimal bone health and improving insulin resistance (11). It’s also known as “nature’s tranquilliser”, helping with low mood and anxiety around menopause (12).
Foods high in calcium include:
- Cheddar cheese
Another mineral key to healthy bones, up your calcium intake to prevent bone loss (osteoporosis) that comes with menopause and aging (13). A decrease in bone mineral density is associated with an increase in risk of fractures (14).
Check out this calculator to see if you’re getting an adequate amount of calcium.
The best source of vitamin D is sunlight. Small traces are naturally found in fatty fish, fish liver oil, and egg yolks.
Foods often fortified with vitamin D include:
- Animal and plant-based milk
- Breakfast cereals
Vitamin D is also heavily involved in mitigating bone loss in peri- and postmenopausal women, working well together with calcium as it improves calcium absorption (14, 15). This vitamin also plays an incredibly important role in improving mood and chronic illnesses (16).
Estrogen promotes the activity of the enzyme that activates vitamin D (15). Declining estrogen that occurs around menopause can contribute to lower levels of vitamin D, so it’s especially important to ensure you have an adequate intake during this time.
It’s important to talk to your doctor before taking any supplements, but vitamin D is one that we’d most often recommend.