If you’re approaching the menopause you might also be asking questions about recommended nutrition and, if you’re considering supplementation, what the best supplements for the menopause are.
I was asked about this recently so thought I’d share some tips with you today. I hope it helps and of course if it triggers any further questions for you please feel free to get in touch and I am happy to help.
I’m interested in supplements and also any advice on the best foods or supplements for the menopause for women in their 50s! I won’t be ever able to have HRT and not even sure at what point I am in that respect, but anything that keeps my hormones balanced naturally I would be interested in.
I’m happy to help you navigate this tricky world of supplements and nutrition, so please read on below:
Many women will at some point suffer from symptoms including hot flashes, interrupted sleep, depression, and increased osteoporosis risk.
Exercising Helps Manage Symptoms Of Menopause
Before considering taking supplements for the menopause, I recommend that you consider your current exercise and activity levels.
Keeping your background and goals in mind, as well as any contraindications or medical advice you may have recieved, making exercise a habit comes with far reaching benefits for your mental and physical health and wellbeing.
Exercise doesn’t have to mean a hellishly intense bootcamp if that’s not your thing. And it soean’t have to man hours spent on the treadmill bored senseless.
Whatever you choose to do, regular exercise is helpful in treating many symptoms without even considering supplements for the menopause. The combination of moderate impact exercise, balance exercises, and resistance exercises. This alone can help you with better sleep quality, and better mood, as well as reduced risk of fractures and falling.
This doesn’t have to be some unbearable high intensity workout or intense resistance training sessions. Just building activity into your life can be very beneficial to your overall health and help you manage your changing body. Find something you like doing, and do that. You might dread the thought of gym based training sessions and group exercise classes, but look forward to other activities such as dancing, gardening, walking and swimming. Find something you enjoy.
Stress Under Control?
Managing your lifestyle is not just about exercise. Along with exercise – which incidently is excellent for reducing stress – getting your stress under control is also a helpful next step. How? Try these ideas:
- Get enough sleep – work on a sleep routine (see below)
- Wake up at the same time every day – work on a morning routine
- Get your priorities straight and allow yourself to say no to demands
- Audit your time use, check for all the time zapping activities in your day that are unhelpful, and work to reduce these
- On the same note, check for all the supporting activities you do in your day and make time for these
- Meditate, deep breath, do a ,mind body scan or do some exercise
- Keep a grateful list or achievement journal, linked with your sleep routine, jot down any thoughts you have before you go to sleep
Get The Basic Food Skills In First. Consistently
Before even thinking about supplementation and fine tuning, I always encourage clients to work on getting the basic habits in place consistently. When it comes to food, the real fundamentals such as eating slowly, eating when hungry and stopping your meal once satisfied will get you a long way to ideal body weight, and will help your body be at its best.
Provide Nutrient Density Through Food
Before you even begin to think about supplements for the menopause you need to consider real food.
Three of the fundamental rules that define good nutrition are that it will properly control energy balance and will provide nutrient density. In terms of your health as you age and surrounding menopause, you will notice benefits in terms of improved body composition (weight loss in many cased), health and performance. You will provide your body all the nutrients it needs to function optimally at any age.
By eating as described above you will provide your body with the right amount of energy it needs (control energy balance). It might be the case that you are seeking to lose weight and so creating a calorie deficit is a fundamental element to this. The skills mentioned above will help you to do this intuitively without having to count calories.
Once these eating habits are in place consistently you can then begin to focus on added nutritional value of the foods that you are eating (provide nutrient density). This will optimally support your body and hormone balance.
Eating three meals per day will allow each meal to be big enough to be satisfying, while at the same time providing an adequate amount of the macronutrients protein, fat and carbohydrates. This in turn will be beneficial to your body – letting it know you are in abundance and reducing the stress – and eliciting beneficial hormone response both in terms of satiety and growth and repair.
How to increase nutrient density? Try this at each meal based on eating 3 meals per day:
- 1 x palm of protein dense food such as beef, fish or Greek yogurt
- 1x cupped hand of minimally processed carbohydrate based food such as quinoa or wild rice
- 1x fist of vegetables – aim for multiple colours and green leafy vegetables
- 1x thumb sized amount of healthy fat such as olive oil, nuts or butter
Further Refinement With Menopause In Mind
Roughly 75% of women will experience hot flashes. Ways to manage this could include reducing caffeine intake, and adding ligan containing ground flax seeds to the diet to help with symptoms.
Practice deep paced breathing, ‘box’ breathing, or other relaxation techniques during hot flashes.
Sleep Nutrition And Supplement Routine
- Black cohosh has been shown to reduce the incidence of hot flashes
- Reduce caffeine intake at night
- Try a small meal before bed with minimally processed carbohydrates
- Single dose of ZMA (zinc and magnesium)
- Pre-bed dose of valarian (400mg)
- With your evening meal 200-400mg phosphtidylserine
- Sleep routing may include
- Bed at the same time every night
- Bath or shower
- Read a book
- Avoid screen time and electronics
- Make your sleep environment dark and the correct temperature
Reducing Depression Associated With Menopause
Improving your sleep quality has so many positive knock on effects. Too many to mention here, but one is the reduction in depression associated with the menopause.
In addition, adding 6-10g of total omega 3 fish oil per day to the diet may help. Ensuring your brain gets a good supply of EPA and DHA fats is helpful, and a fish oil supplement may help you to do this.
The addition of fish oil and omega 3 fats in our diets has countless other benefits too, not least the anti inflammatory effect, and the benefits of balancing the omega 3: omega 6 ratio which is usually out of balance with the abundance of omega 6 ingested in our diets.
Reduce Osteoporosis Associated With Aging And The Menopause
We can’t see osteoporosis but after we reach peak bone mass in our twenties and thirties, men and women both experience a reduction as part of the aging process.
Women have an accelerated loss in bone mass during the menopause years, where the rate of change increases compared to men of similar age. After menopause the rate of change continues as part of the natural aging process.
Unfortunately many women aren’t aware of low bone density until it is highlighted by a trip or fall and the consequences of impact result in a fracture – often at the hip, spine or wrist.
So, what can be done?
Ensure you are getting adequate protein, calcium and increased fruit and vegetable intake by eating as described above. In addition vitamin D3 is essential so regular sun exposure or supplementation is recommended. A vast number of us are vitamin d deficient.
In addition to this, weight bearing activity and purposeful exercise is helpful in maintaining bone mass.
Managing Menopause Related Weight Gain
If you’re in your forties fifties or sixties or experiencing menopause related weight gain you may feel frustrated or stuck.
Weight loss for women over 50 can feel impossible, so cut yourself some slack, forgive yourself and don’t be too hard on yourself. By doing so and reducing the stress surrounding this often stressful subject of weight loss or weight gain, you will be doing yourself a favour and putting yourself in a much better position for weight loss success.
Ensure you meet your calorie and nutrient goals and consider that as we age our resting metabolic rate decreases and we lose muscle mass.
Eating as described above can go a long way to addressing this energy balance.
Consider also the effects that prescription medications may be having on your ability to lose weight. Prescribed hormones and anti-depressants can make weight loss challenging for you. Speak with your GP about managing your symptoms and simultaneously reaching your weight loss goal.
At the same time, check with your GP that any supplements that you are taking don’t interact negatively with your prescribed medication. An example of this would be Black Cohosh and HRT.
As women’s hormonal balance changes with time, there is increased risk of metabolic sydrome and cardiovascular diseases for example heart attack and strokes. With this in mind you may be able to monitor your blood profile indicators more closely with your doctor.
A final observation is body fat distribution. As you age you might notice a migration of body fat towards your midsection as estradiol levels increase compared to progesterone.
At the end of the day, the strategies mentioned within this article will help you manage your menopausal weight gain (or challenging weight loss).
Best Supplements For The Menopause
Catch-All Nutritional Supplement
Once the basic nutrition and lifestyle steps are in place then it might be worth considering a catch all supplement.
Side note: There is an argument to supplement with a multivitamin and mineral supplement as a first step – before you even think about food – if your limiting factor is currently a distinct lack of minimally processed food in your diet. Common deficiencies include vitamins, minerals, hydration, omega 3 fats and protein, and depending on your start point a supplement might be a quick way to tackle this deficiency and make you feel better straight away.
An example common in women is iron deficiency. Even with a nutrient dense diet and a regular intake of rich iron sources of biologically available (heme) iron such as from mussels, red meat and organ meat.
For somebody who eats largely processed foods, or is vegetarian or vegan, a much quicker and easier way to get iron levels up to normal ranges would be to supplement with an iron supplement, while at the same time as tackling the nutritional deficits over the longer term. This will have you feeling much better much more quickly.
Even with the most nutrient dense and broad diet from real food it is challenging to meet your optimum micronutrient intake. Vitamins and mineral deficiencies are common and cal leave us feeling bad. When it comes to the menopause, or any age, providing your body with a ‘catch all’ multvitamin and mineral supplement might be a great idea.
When it comes to food supplements for the menopause these can be split into two categories. Those providing ‘essential nutrients‘ and those which provide ‘non essential nutrients‘.
Essential nutrients are present in food are needed for normal physiological functioning. Non essential nutrients can be described as those which the body can make itself – assuming adequate nutritional intake – or nutrients that aren’t needed for normal physiological functioning.
Are you confused about whether to take supplements for the menopause? This supplement guide should help.
There’s lots of information available, but much of it is biased in order to sell a product.
If you do decide to supplement, be mindful that it doesn’t need to be an ‘all or nothing’ strategy. Imagine you mainly eat an awesome diet rich in protein, vegetables and healthy fat, and your hydration is good most of the time, but you struggle at certain times.
On these occasions you may choose to supplement. Examples could include super-busy days, or days that you travel with your job or for leisure. When food is hard to come by, a supplement may be beneficial.
Below I highlight four essential nutrient supplements that can help you to promote health and being safe to use regularly:
- The key source of Omega3 is fish oil. Supplementation is effective for fat loss and health benefits.
- Real Food Sources
- Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, herrings.
- Grass fed organic beef.
- Flax and pumpkin seeds (plant based source).
Why Supplement With Omega 3?
- It is easy to become deficient in Omega 3.
- Ratio of omega 3 and 6 becomes imbalanced due to high intake of omega 6.
How Much Should I Take?
- 1g per percent of body fat per day (30% max) for 2 weeks.
- 0.5g per percent of body fat thereafter.
- Opt for liquid rather than capsules.
- Bulk Powders Prom3ga (my personal choice).
- MyProtein Super Omega3
- Genuine Health O3mega liquid.
- Vitabiotics omega 3 liquid
- Poliquin Omega 3 Liquid.
Multivitamin And Mineral
You’d be wise to considered taking vitamins for menopause weight gain because sadly deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals are common – even with a varied diet. This can slow your metabolism and impair fat loss and optimum health and performance.
Real Food Sources
- Fruit, berries and vegetables – more colour and darker the better
- Meat and fish as well as organ meat and shellfish
- Seeds and nuts
- To prevent common vitamin and mineral deficiency.
- Ensure you cover any gaps left by real food.
- Ensure proper functioning of the metabolism.
How Much Should I take?
- As directed by the product you purchase.
- Be careful not to exceed the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Dangers of excess, in particular fat soluble vitamins A,D,E and K.
- Holland And Barrett SuperOne.
- Holland And Barrett MEGA Vitamin and Mineral.
- Genuine Health Multi+
- Bulk Powders Complete multivitamin and mineral complex
If you get enough protein from the foods you eat supplementation is not necessary. Many of us are protein deficient though, so if you’re pressed for time or eating too little protein then supplementing can be useful in appetite regulation, metabolism and fat loss.
Real Food Sources
- Meat, fish and poultry.
- Eggs (white) and dairy such as Greek yogurt.
- Nuts, seeds and legumes and pulses (plant based sources).
- Tempeh and tofu
- Protein contains amino acids which are essential.
- Convenient protein source if you’re in a rush.
- Helps with appetite regulation.
- We’re commonly deficient in protein.
How Much Should I Take?
- As directed by the product.
- 20-80g per day (no more than 80g).
- Supplement rather than replace real food sources of protein.
- MyProtein Impact Whey Protein Isolate.
- Other sources such as Pea or Hemp can be useful if you want a plant based source.
- Be aware of added ingredients.
A greens drink may seem like an unlikely suggestion and not an obvious choice of supplements for the menopause.
If you eat enough vegetables, a greens drink probably isn’t necessary. Many of us don’t eat enough vegetables and are missing out on the micronutrients which help us lose fat and maintain health. In addition a greens drink will help by providing antioxidants and improving your pH.
Real Food Sources?
- Vegetables including dark leafy vegetables.
- Cruciferous vegetables.
- Fruit including citrus fruit.
- Improved pH.
- Essential if you don’t eat lots of vegetables.
- Antioxidant effect and a good source of phytonutrients.
How Much Should I Take?
- Manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Usually 1-2 servings daily.
- Bulk Powders Complete Greens
- MyProtein Total Nutri Greens.
- Genuine Health Greens+.
Notes: In addition to protein, omega 3, vitamin and mineral deficiencies being common in many people, chronic dehydration is also common.
Baseline blood screening every 6-12 months can identify any deficiencies you may have.
Take supplementation as appropriate, for example females in particular may be iron deficient and need supplementation, while many of us lack vitamin D.
Supplements For The Menopause – Do You Really Need To Take Anything At All?
Whatever stage you’re at in your life, living in line with your values will get you a long way. Aging happens to us all, and we can’t waste energy worrying about the outcome. All we can do is take responsibility for what we consistently do.
When it come to good nutrition, that means meeting your energy needs and nutrient needs. Do this by eating well consistently and avoiding periods of restriction followed by overeating, guilt and shame. Once you eat consistently and intuitively, then focus on nutrients from food and opt for nutrient dense food.
When it comes to the best supplements for the menopause, supplementation of essential nutrients may be helpful, if not all the time, at times that eating well challenges you.
Reducing stress in your life, including getting enough sleep and regular exercise has so many positive effects at any stage in life, and it is worth spending some time to get this dialed in too.
It doesn’t have to be all at once. Just ask, ‘what is the single biggest thing that could move me in the direction I want to go?’
Once you identify this ‘thing’, scale it back so it become super easy to actually do. Practice doing your ‘thing’.
Work on that one ‘thing’ until it is easy, before scaling up or adding a new thing.
I hope this helps you to decide whether to take supplements for the menopause at all, and if so which are the best ones to take. In the end, you can do a lot without the need for supplementation if you manage your nutrition from food and your lifestyle, and embrace this time of your life positively.
When it comes to nutrition and lifestyle, you might have notices there is so much conflicting advice on the internet, and much of it is very complicated or inaccurate. Eating well at any age doesn’t have to be complicated, and you don’t need to subscribe to complicated diets or exercise routines.
If you want to develop the skills to navigate the merky world of diets, supplements and exercise you might be interested in learning more about how taking a habit based approach to losing weight can help you long term. Save $20 per month and learn more about online nutrition coaching here.