Managing Menopause Part 4: Vitamins & Minerals
Five Essential Supplements to Support the Health of Women Experiencing Menopause
Written by Teagan Evans, University of Alberta Student in the Nutrition and Food Sciences program and reviewed by our Health Stand Nutrition Dietitian Team
Welcome back to Managing Menopause! In Part 1: What is It? and Part 2: Estrogen & Your Health, we discussed the hormonal changes occurring during menopause and some of the associated long-term health effects. In Part 3: Foods for Menopause we looked at how different foods affect the symptoms of menopause. This week we are looking at helpful vitamins and minerals to be sure you are including in your diet.
Vitamins and minerals play a significant role in our everyday health. Many of us already know that carbohydrates, proteins, and fats help fuel our body and have many important metabolic functions. Vitamins and minerals assist in these metabolic functions and help keep our body healthy and living up to its fullest potential.
Menopause creates many changes in a woman’s body. Ensuring proper nutrition, including vitamin and mineral intake, can help manage health outcomes and maintain a healthy lifestyle for the future. While all vitamins and minerals are essential for health below you will find 5 key nutrients that are especially important for women during menopause.
Vitamin D is a very important vitamin for women going through menopause as it plays a significant role in maintaining bone strength and helps counteract the increased risk of osteoporosis. Mood changes often occur during menopause and vitamin D has been positively associated with reducing feelings of anxiety and depression, contributing to a higher quality of life.
Most vitamins are obtained by eating specific foods, but the most common way to increase vitamin D in the body is from sunlight exposure. While this sounds simple, it can be difficult to get enough sun exposure during the winter months or with use of sunscreen so it is necessary to increase vitamin D through your diet and supplements. Health Canada recommends that in addition to following a healthy balanced diet, all adults over age 50 should take a daily vitamin D supplement.
Vitamin D food sources include:
- Fortified beverages (cow’s milk, soymilk, goat’s milk, fortified orange juices)
- Fatty fish (halibut, salmon, sardines, trout)
- Egg yolks
- Fortified margarine
Health Canada further recommends that all adults up to age 70 get 600 IU of vitamin D per day from food and supplements. For those over age 70, 800 IU per day is recommended. Some experts suggest that even higher levels of vitamin D supplements may help those who have osteoporosis or are at risk. Speak with your Dietitian and Doctor about what is best for you.
Calcium is a mineral that is involved in the creation of new bone and helps to maintain bone density. As well, calcium is important for maintaining healthy teeth. Menopausal women are at increased risk of osteoporosis and it is very important that they consume enough calcium every day to counteract bone density changes.
Health Canada and Dietitians of Canada recommend that women over the age of 50 years consume 1000 mg of calcium every day.
Calcium food sources include foods such as:
- Milk and dairy products
- Fortified beverages such as calcium fortified soymilk/orange juice
- Dark leafy greens
- Fish and seafood (with small bones)
Many individuals do not require a calcium supplement, however if your diet does not include many calcium rich sources or you have other health concerns, it is always best to discuss options with your Dietitian or Doctor.
You may enjoy reading these previous posts about calcium from our blog:
There are several different types of B Vitamins including thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B4), B6, biotin (B7), B12 and folic acid. They all have important and crucial roles in maintaining body functions. Deficiencies in B Vitamins can lead to nervous system malfunctions and issues relating to the metabolic pathways for macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, & fat).
Researchers have found B vitamins may play a role in the cognitive abilities of menopausal women. As well, the risk of cardiovascular disease has been shown to increase with B vitamin deficiencies. Menopausal women should be aware of their B vitamin intake to help maintain their health. For recommended intakes of each B vitamin, view this table.
B Vitamins have a variety of forms and are found in numerous food sources. It is always best to consume the majority of your daily intake of vitamins and minerals through food.
B Vitamin food sources include:
- Beef & Poultry
- Fruits and vegetables (bananas, spinach, oranges, mushrooms)
- Enriched grain products
- Peanut butter
Vitamin K is a unique vitamin that we are able to produce in our bodies through a health gut microbiome. A healthy gut microbiome relies on consuming a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Menopausal women are at risk for osteoporosis and vitamin K can help them maintain a healthy bone structure. As well, vitamin K assists in blood clotting and helps our body heal wounds.
We require very small amounts of vitamin K and most people do not need to consume a supplement. Too much vitamin K can be harmful to our bodies and it is best to consume your vitamin K through food. Health Canada and Dietitians of Canada recommends that women over the age of 19 require 90 mcg of vitamin K every day.
Vitamin K food sources include:
- Dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, beet/turnip greens)
- Canola oil & soybean oil
- Brussel spouts
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin which means that it requires fat to become absorbed in our bodies. In order to maximize the amount of vitamin K absorbed, the above foods should be consumed together with other dishes/foods that contain fat.
Magnesium is a mineral that aids other vitamins and minerals in maintaining metabolic pathways and bone strength. Without magnesium, vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D and calcium would not be able to maintain our bone structure. As a result of menopausal women being at risk for osteoporosis, ensuring enough magnesium is important to help keep your bones healthy.
Health Canada and Dietitians of Canada recommend women over the age of 31 consume 320mg of magnesium daily, but should not consume over 350mg magnesium per day. Luckily, most individuals are able to reach their daily magnesium intake through food.
Magnesium food sources include:
- Seeds & nuts (pumpkin, sunflower, brazil nuts, almonds)
- Soy foods
- Wheat germ & bran
All of these vitamins and minerals play important roles in your body at any age, but especially during menopause. Achieving your daily vitamin and mineral intake is important to maintaining a healthy body and managing the physiological changes that occur during menopause.
Ensuring you are getting enough of your daily recommended intake is important, however too much of a vitamin or mineral can cause harm to your health. The best way to ensure you are consuming enough vitamins and minerals is to enjoy a balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein sources, and healthy fats.
For more information about vitamins and minerals, visit some of our other blog posts below:
Read the previous Managing Menopause articles here:
If you need nutrition for menopause support please reach out for help. Our Registered Dietitian team can assist you with your health and nutrition goals and help you to achieve your personal best weight (still eating foods you love). For more information please visit our personal nutrition counseling services by our Calgary Dietitian / Online Nutritionist team.
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