Posted on September 7, 2020
Menopause is a natural biological phase that most women experience between the age of 45 and 55 years and can last from a few months to a few years. It is classified as the absence of the menstrual period for more than one year and tests conducted by a doctor can determine if a woman is menopausal by testing hormone levels, in particular a decline in oestrogen(1). Prior to menopause women may experience symptoms that can be associated with PMS (premenstrual syndrome), these can last for some time before they experience menopausal symptoms. This phase is known as peri-menopause and should not be confused with PMS.
The common symptoms experienced by women going through menopause include: hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, difficulty sleeping, low mood or anxiety, reduced sex drive (libido), problems with memory and concentration. Some women may experience these symptoms more severely than others, if they appear before 45 years old, a doctor should be consulted(1).
The hormone oestrogen is involved in the maintenance of bone density, as oestrogen declines on the approach and during menopause this decline increases the risk of developing osteoporosis. With the changes in hormones at this stage, women are also at a higher risk of developing certain diseases including obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
It is at this life stage that a renewed focus on health and wellbeing can often encourage women to review their diet and lifestyle choices plus review their supplement regime to meet the needs of their changing body.
Key nutrients to focus on in the diet are calcium and vitamin D which help maintain normal bones. These nutrients can be obtained from dairy products including milk, cheese and yogurt. The most common source of Vitamin D is through the absorption of sunlight on skin, in addition Vitamin D is also available from oily fish and eggs. Other sources of calcium rich foods include: green leafy vegetables like kale, collard greens, spinach and also tofu and beans.
A diet rich in fruit and vegetables provides a range of nutrients and antioxidants including Vitamin C and magnesium which play a role in bone health. It has also been shown that fruit and vegetable consumption can protect against premenopausal bone loss(2). These food choices are also great for weight management, healthy weight maintenance is associated with overall wellbeing.
Foods rich in phytoestrogens, which are naturally occurring plant compounds that mimic the effects of oestrogen include: soybeans and soy products, tofu, tempeh, flaxseeds, sesame seeds and beans. These foods are shown popular with women approaching and during the menopause. A meta-analysis of ten studies found that phytoestrogens significantly reduced hot flushes(3).
On the other hand, foods including caffeine, alcohol, sugar and spicy foods have been reported to exacerbate menopausal symptoms like hot flushes, night sweats and migraines.
Making sure you exercise regularly has shown to have so many health benefits including: improving energy levels and sleep, reducing stress plus lifting the mood by releasing so-called ‘happy hormones’ called endorphins. Regular gentle exercise in line with government recommendations can also help support healthy joints and bones and lowers the risk of developing chronic conditions like heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer(4). The NHS guidelines to stay healthy and keep fit recommend aiming for 150 minutes of physical activity a week.
Changes in the body temperature during this life stage make it extra important to stay well hydrated. Regular water consumption is a must, plus you could occasionally consider coconut water, which is hydrating and contains natural electrolytes that help balance the minerals in the body.
Here at Lifeplan we have formulated Menopause Complete, a multivitamin and mineral formulation designed for women at this life stage. Nutrients carefully selected for this include:
Vitamin B6, which helps with the regulation of hormonal activity and normal function of the nervous system.
Magnesium, Vitamin D, Vitamin K and Zinc contribute to the maintenance of normal bones, which is especially important for menopausal women. Biotin and Zinc contribute to the maintenance of normal hair and skin.
Lifeplan Menopause Complete also contains the botanicals Sage Leaf Extract, Flaxseed Extract, Citrus Bioflavonoids, Soya Isoflavones, Siberian Ginseng Extract and Maritime Pine Bark Extract. Sage can contribute to menopausal comfort for those women experiencing excessive sweating, whilst flaxseed and soya isoflavones are natural sources of phytoestrogens. Siberian Ginseng contributes to adaptogenic activity. Adaptogens, like Siberian Ginseng, help support the body’s natural ability to deal with stress. French Maritime Pine Extract is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants protect cells from oxidative stress.
This period of transition can offer new challenges for women, the chance to review dietary and lifestyle choices plus a revised supplement programme, and new exercise goals.
1. NHS. (2018). Menopause. Available: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/menopause/. Last accessed 7th August 2020.
2. Macdonald, H. M., New, S. A., Golden, M. H.N. et al. (2004). Nutritional associations with bone loss during the menopausal transition: evidence of a beneficial effect of calcium, alcohol, and fruit and vegetable nutrients and of a detrimental effect of fatty ac. Am J Clin Nutr. 79 (1), 155-165.
3. Chen, M-N., Lin, C-C., Liu, C-F. (2015). Efficacy of phytoestrogens for menopausal symptoms: a meta-analysis and systematic review. Climacteric. 18 (2), 260-290.
4. NHS. (2018). Benefits of exercise. Available: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/exercise-health-benefits/. Last accessed 7th August 2020.