Menopause is one of the most difficult phases in the life of a woman. The hormonal changes that occur during menopause induce several uncomfortable problems such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, sleeping difficulties and mood swings.
Dramatic reduction in estrogen secretion increases the risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular problems. Most of these problems can be overcome with the help of supplements.
Supplements for Menopause
The risks of osteoporosis, fractures and arthritis increase after menopause. To slow down loss of bone density, supplements containing calcium and vitamin D are recommended for menopausal women. Moreover, by inhibiting absorption of fats in the gut and boosting lipid excretion, calcium can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases in postmenopausal women. Once the estrogen level drops in a menopausal woman, she needs at least 1200mg of calcium each day to preserve the bone mass. Instead of taking a large dosage of the supplement at a time, divide it into two to three smaller doses.
Maximum amount of calcium is absorbed from the supplements only when it contains not more than 500mg of calcium. Calcium carbonate is the most common source of elemental calcium in supplements. It can be easily absorbed only in the presence of sufficient stomach acid. Therefore, calcium carbonate supplements should be taken only with foods. Menopausal women suffering from absorption disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease can take calcium citrate supplements.
Vitamin D deficiency is common in menopausal and postmenopausal women. While inadequate exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun is the primary cause of vitamin D deficiency, the natural vitamin D synthesis process of the body tends to slow down with age. Without the help of vitamin D, calcium cannot be absorbed in the digestive tract.
Sufficient vitamin D in the blood also helps calcium to bind to the bones. Therefore, to enable calcium absorption, vitamin D is usually combined with calcium in supplements. According to the latest guidelines of the Institute of Medicine, 600 to 4000 International Units of vitamin D can be consumed daily.
In addition to building strong bones and joints, vitamin D is also needed to fight mood swings, depression and sleeping difficulties that occur during menopause. Vitamin D supplements can also prevent weight gain, a common problem in menopausal women that occurs due to low metabolism rate and inadequate physical activities.
At the end of the reproductive life, most women are bothered by hot flashes and night sweat. Vitamin E supplements can help to reduce these symptoms by stabilizing the hormonal imbalance. During menopause, a woman needs about 10 to 50 times more vitamin E than younger women of childbearing age do.
Moreover, this antioxidant vitamin can slow down the aging process by obstructing the harmful activities of the free radicals. According to a Michigan Department of Epidemiology study, vitamin E taken in the form of supplements helps to normalize the cholesterol level in the blood of menopausal women. High serum cholesterol is common in menopausal and postmenopausal women. Excess low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol increases the risk of heart diseases and strokes.