5 nutrient deficiencies in post-menopausal women
As women age, our bodies undergo storms of changes. Adolescence, puberty, pregnancy—they all come with an evolution of feelings and shake-ups. But when menopause comes knocking at the door, there’s much to be done to keep our bodies healthy and happy.
One of the leading difficulties for postmenopausal women is nutrient deficiencies. It’s harder for a postmenopausal woman’s body to generate nutrients on its own, and deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals can make life feel harder than it should be. But a carefully-crafted supplement regimen could be the avenue to feeling your best.
Read along for a few of the most important nutrients to add to your medicine cabinet when you’re postmenopausal.
Bone health is a paramount concern for postmenopausal women—so much so, that osteoporosis affects nearly one out of every three postmenopausal women, resulting in brittle bones and a high propensity for fractures and other bone-related complications. (May happens to be osteoporosis month too!)
Lifestyle changes to adapt to our changing bodies are important after menopause—but making sure you’re getting enough calcium will help to keep your bones resilient and ready for activity.
Drinking milk alone won’t curb the calcium deficiency caused by menopause. In order to get an adequate calcium intake, postmenopausal women should enlist in a diet of calcium-rich foods like tofu, broccoli, and certain fish, and it’s recommended that older women take 600mg calcium supplements twice a day.
Magnesium (Calcium’s necessary partner)
Okay, so maybe the need for calcium supplementation after menopause isn’t a surprise. But did you know without certain minerals like magnesium, calcium piles up in the body and never makes it to the bones? Magnesium is a necessary element for calcium absorption, ensuring that the bone-building mineral works to its full potential.
But magnesium does so much more than act as a gateway for calcium.
Magnesium, dubbed the “happy mineral,” helps to produce and regulate hormones and can help to elevate moods, which is a common hindrance for postmenopausal women. It also calms stress by preventing excess cortisol from being produced and allows for better production of the thyroid hormone.
Magnesium can further help older women by slowing the aging process—it mitigates oxidative stress, supports production of the protective antioxidant glutathione, and keeps telomeres healthy—which also helps to prevent cancer.
Magnesium can also reduce blood pressure and lowers risks of cardiovascular related events including heart attacks and strokes. It can be found in foods like pumpkin seeds and figs, but food might not make the cut—it’s recommended that post-menopausal women take around 300mg of magnesium per day.
Like magnesium, Vitamin D is essential for absorption of calcium and help to prevent brittle bones. A Vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteoporosis, rickets, and osteomalacia—all of which involve degradation of the bone structure. It also has a hand in cell growth and neuromuscular functions, and can aid as an inflation-buster. Vitamin D is furthermore a tool for higher metabolism and a preventative measure for multiple sclerosis.
As a young person, going outside a few times a week and getting some sun on your face, arms, and legs will get you the Vitamin D you need. But as the skin ages, it’s more difficult for the body to produce vitamin D naturally.
Foods rich in Vitamin D are milk, cereal, salmon, and egg yolks. But getting Vitamin D from food may not be the answer for postmenopausal women, as the need for Vitamin D doubles to 400 IU each day.
B vitamins are essential for breaking down nutrients and prepping them for use in the body, and Vitamin B6 deficiency can lead to a whole host of issues—especially after menopause.
As women reach the postmenopausal arena, serotonin levels often drop. Because women over 50 are at an increased risk for depression and other mood changes, it’s important to maintain vitamin B6 levels as deficiencies have been linked to confusion, depression, irritability, and nerve damage.
B6 is also needed to make hemoglobin, which helps to oxygenate the rest of your body, aiding in better immune system functions. The vitamin is also crucial for a flourishing nervous system.
The Office on Women’s Health recommends that women over 50 need 1.5 mg of vitamin B6 each day.
Unfortunately, stress doesn’t end with menopause. Instead, cortisol levels have a tendency to run amok and antioxidants can be scarce. But Vitamin E, containing antioxidant properties, can come to the rescue by balancing cortisol levels and reducing oxidative stress.
Vitamin E deficiencies can be seen and felt in the skin, too. Itchy skin, vaginal dryness, fibrocystic breasts, susceptibility to infections, and varicose veins are all symptoms of low levels of vitamin E in your body.
You’ll find Vitamin E in almonds, spinach, and sunflower seeds. The recommended daily dose for Vitamin E is 15 mg per day.
Change can be scary, no matter what your age. However, aging doesn’t have to be.