For most people taking daily nutritional supplements isn’t necessary. A balanced diet is sufficient to obtain the vitamins and minerals the body needs. For those who do, taking them excessively or for a long period of time can be detrimental to their health. (1)
That’s why we want to discuss the use of supplements during menopause, so you can lead a healthy life.
What are nutritional supplements?
Nutritional supplements have become very popular in recent years. So much so that approximately half of the world’s adult population takes some form of supplementation. (2)
As the name suggests, these are products that supplement the diet with nutrients that, in theory, might be lacking. Among the most common vitamins and minerals found in supplements are (3):
- Vitamins C and D
- B complex vitamins
- Iron and calcium
Some even include other elements such as herbs, fish oil (which contains omega 3 6 9) and probiotics. All of these are available as tablets, capsules, gummies, aerosols and powders. (3)
Who needs dietary supplements?
There are some conditions and stages of life when certain nutritional supplements are needed. The main ones are (3,4):
- Children under 1 year of age: most children (except those who consume more than 500 ml of infant formula per day) require daily vitamin D intake to avoid vitamin D deficiency.
- Children from the age of 1 year and adults: may need to take vitamin D during the winter, i.e. when they cannot expose their skin to the sun.
- Pregnant women: should supplement folic acid and sometimes iron.
- People with anaemia.
- Those who have undergone stomach surgery.
- People following vegan diets.
- Women during the menopause.
Why take nutritional supplements in menopause?
During the menopause, the body is especially dependent on vitamins and minerals to stay strong and healthy. As oestrogen levels drop, the likelihood of disease increases. These include osteoporosis, heart disease and urinary incontinence (4).
Fortunately, some nutritional supplements help to reduce this risk and reduce menopausal symptoms. The most recommended vitamins and minerals during this stage of a woman’s life are (4,5):
- Vitamin A: this is the name of a group of compounds called retinoids. They can contribute to bone health.
- Vitamin B6: helps serotonin, which is in charge of the connections in our brain. This helps with mood swings and symptoms of depression during menopause.
- Vitamin B12: contributes to bone health, DNA production, normal brain function and red blood cell production.
- Vitamin D: normally produced by the body when exposed to sunlight. Requirements for this vitamin increase after the age of 50. By supplementing adequately, you decrease the risk of bone problems such as fractures, pain and weakness.
- Vitamin E: is an antioxidant that supports many functions in the body. It can reduce the risk of depression and heart disease, as well as helping to maintain a healthy weight.
- Calcium: Calcium levels decrease during menopause, as does its absorption. Calcium intake helps with bone and oral health, so it is essential to make sure you maintain adequate levels.
Importance of a balanced diet during menopause
As your body changes, so must your habits. Since there is no pill that will give you all the nutritional supplements you need, the best way to get them is through a balanced diet (6).
Following fad diets is not a good option. On the contrary, a diet rich in vegetables, calcium and soya can help to improve menopausal symptoms, as they provide sufficient nutrients (6).
It’s advised to consult your doctor before starting to take supplements. They will take several factors into account (age, weight, waist circumference and dietary habits) to decide what is best for you (4).
And finally, we recommend that in addition to your diet you exercise daily, practice relaxation methods and avoid the over consumption of alcohol as well as cutting down on smoking(4).
Remember that menopause is just another stage and should not interfere with your personal goals, so take control of your habits and your life!
- NHS Choices. Do I need vitamin supplements? [Internet]. 2022 Nov 22 [cited 2023 Mar 2]. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/food-and-diet/do-i-need-vitamin-supplements/
- Harvard Health. Supplements: A scorecard [Internet]. 2021 Sep 22 [cited 2023 Mar 2]. Available from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/supplements-a-scorecard
- BDA. Supplements [Internet]. Uk.com. [cited 2023 Mar 2]. Available from: https://www.bda.uk.com/resource/supplements.html
- McDermott A. Can Vitamins Help Alleviate My Menopause Symptoms? [Internet]. Healthline Media; 2019 Apr 22 [cited 2023 Mar 2]. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health/menopause/vitamins-for-menopause
- Dresden D. Menopause supplements: Effectiveness, side effects, and safety [Internet]. Medicalnewstoday.com. 2021 Dec 22 [cited 2023 Mar 2]. Available from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/menopause-supplements#summary
- Cleveland Clinic. Supplements for Menopause Symptoms: Are They Safe? [Internet]. 2022 Oct 26 [cited 2023 Mar 2]. Available from: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/menopause-supplements/