Nutrition and Menopause

Menopause is when the body changes and females are deemed infertile. Every woman will experience this as it is a natural step in the ageing process. Basically what happens is the two female sex hormones (Estrogen and Progesterone) are stopped being produced by the body.

 

The changes experienced by the start of menopause are both environmental and biological. There are many changes that are unexpected, some being:

 

  • The way certain nutrients are processed by the body

 

  • The requirement of more nutrients and less of other

 

Weight accumulation around the midsection, this is due to an Estrogen decrease as changes occur in the way the body metabolises fat.

 

Other factors include increased stress and decreased insulin sensitivity. (Exercise is a great way to counteract the insulin resistance and control the stress hormone cortisol from having negative effects).

 

Nutrients

 

Protein 1.2g per kg of BW- extra needed to maintain muscle mass, strength and bone density, also decrease osteoporosis formation.

 

By spreading protein consumption over 3 meals you teach the body how to correctly utilise it.

 

Carbs

 

The way the body processes carbs changes as menopause is reached. Higher quantities of glucose creates a high blood sugar spike contributing to weight gain and insulin resistance.

Low GI can manage increases in blood sugar.

 

Examples of Low GI carbohydrates:

 

  • Sweet potatoes

  • Steel cut oats

  • Apples

 

Micronutrients

 

Calcium & vitamin D

 

Your calcium needs increase after menopause:

 

  • jumping from 1000 mg to 1200 mg daily.

 

Calcium can’t be absorbed in large doses, and too much calcium in the blood is a bad thing, so overdosing on Calcium is a thing. Calcium is best taken when food sources and supplements are spread throughout the day in smaller amounts or a slow-release supplement is taken.

 

In the later years, females will need more vitamin D to preserve bone strength, so it’s totally fine even as a younger woman to increase your daily intake early, to 800mg.

Vitamin B12

 

A small portion of the population has difficulty absorbing food sources of vitamin B12 in middle age (menopause age). Fortified foods and supplements are absorbed differently by the body and are a good way to meet your needs in this case.

 

Examples of B12 fortified foods:

 

- Nutritional yeast

- Cereals

- Almond/Coconut milks

- Organ meats

- Sardines

- Tuna

 

The foods being consumed at this time should be adjusted accordingly to optimise the way the body is processing nutrients.

 

In conclusion females are prone to deficiencies throughout menopause unless treated correctly in the lead up and during the initial stages, following along with what has been mentioned above is a great start when progressing towards menopause.