Good nutrition can help the menopause

Menopausal women require the right nutrition

The end of a woman’s menstruation cycle can begin in her mid-40s but on average it starts from 50 years of age onwards. This period is known as the menopause and occurs when the body becomes deficient in the hormone ‘oestrogen’ and the ovaries begin to naturally fail. As oestrogen levels fall, egg production (known as ovulation) ends and this stage of a woman’s life can have associated physical, mental and emotional difficulties. Hormones play an important role in health and as these levels drop it can cause sweating, flushes, urine infections, weight gain, sleep loss and changes to mood.

Oestrogen loss can also cause chronic problems such as osteoporosis as the body fails to get the right nutrients it needs. Weight gain during the menopause is another issue that if left unchecked can lead to any number of problems and disorders. Visiting a trained nutritionist can help you find the correct diet during this period of your life to ensure your body gets the right nutrients it needs. Pre-menopausal women and those going through the menopause require a well-balanced diet to ensure good health.

The body needs good nutrition before and during the menopause

Everybody has different requirements from nutrition and this alters as the body ages. Getting the right balance of vitamins and minerals should be monitored and supplemented with the passing years. Women who are pre-menopausal should be having around 1,000mg of calcium each day but as they enter the menopause this should increase to around 1,500mg per day if they are not having HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy).

A lack of calcium in the diet can cause the onset of osteoporosis (brittle bones) so foods high in calcium content such as milk, yoghurt, cheese, sardines, spinach and broccoli should be consumed. If you have difficulty drinking milk you are probably intolerant of the ingredient ‘lactose’ but lactose-free milk products are available. Calcium supplements are also available and tablets containing calcium carbonate are easily absorbed by the body.

Calcium absorption and good bone formation requires vitamin D and women who are postmenopausal reduce the chances of spinal fractures by ensuring they have sufficient intake. However, too much vitamin D can lead to constipation, pain in the abdomen and kidney stones particularly in those with existing kidney problems.

If you have problems eating the right foods then a nutritionist can tailor your diet to include supplements. It is highly advisable to see a trained nutritionist before using supplements as they can provide the right supervision and doses. Too much vitamin A and vitamin D can have nasty side-effects and be particularly dangerous to your health.

Avoiding weight gain during the menopause

With age comes a decline in the amount of physical activity that takes place and this coupled with the menopause can lead to rapid weight gain. The menopause causes weight gain in part due to the falling levels of oestrogen which helps to regulate weight. By increasing the amount of physical activity you do, and using a nutritionist to help you balance activity with the right foods, weight gain can be avoided.

A visit to a trained nutritionist can help you balance the vitamins and minerals that will ensure your body has the diet it needs to function properly while going through the menopause.

Article submitted by
Daniel Alexander, GoToSee Journalist

Date published
16/10/08


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