Loss of bone density, increased risk for cardiovascular disease, and depression are a few risks that menopausal women face. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent or limit such risks, starting with the right supplements and vitamins for menopause. Keep reading to see which menopause vitamins can make a difference!
Changes in hormones can bring about menopausal stress, which is when B vitamins can help. B vitamins, known as the ‘stress’ vitamins, include the following1:
As you enter menopause, your ovaries slowly stop producing sex hormones. However, your adrenal glands and fat cells will continue to produce them. B vitamins are important because they support the production of these hormones.
B vitamins are also involved in processes important for central nervous system function2. In addition to this, they are necessary for converting carbohydrates into glucose which is used for energy.
B vitamins have other benefits for menopausal women. Here’s a breakdown of why these vitamins are essential:
Menopausal women face an increased risk for osteoporosis which is why they should ensure they’re getting enough vitamin B12.
Many studies have shown the association between low bone mineral density and low levels of vitamin B123. One such study found that women with vitamin B12 levels less than 210pM were 6.9 times more likely to have osteoporosis than those with B12 greater than 320pM4.
Aside from its role in maintaining bone health, vitamin B12 is also said to help reduce anxiety, depression, mood swings, and fatigue.
According Mayo Clinic, “low levels of B12 and other B vitamins such as vitamin B6 and folate may be linked to depression.”
One study by Sánchez-Villegas and colleagues found that women with high intakes of vitamin B12 had lower occurrences of depression5.Therefore, this indicates that vitamin B12 can help with depression and other low moods menopausal women may experience.
While this research suggests that vitamin B12 and other B vitamins have an association with low moods, it’s important to point out that more research needs to be done.
Additionally, vitamin B12 helps convert carbohydrates into glucose for energy. It also helps build red blood cells which carry iron and oxygen throughout the body. In this way, this vitamin helps keep your energy levels up and reduces fatigue.
As you get older, your body’s ability to absorb vitamin B12 from the foods you eat may diminish. This increases the risk for a deficiency in this vitamin.
Vitamin B12 deficiencies can contribute to anemia and can also increase a person’s risk for heart disease6.This is why vitamin B12 is especially important for menopausal women as it can help combat tiredness and reduce the risk for heart disease.
Pro tip: Vitamin B12 is only found naturally in animal products. This is why it’s important for vegetarians or vegans to take vitamin B12 supplements.
Menopausal women also have an increased risk for cardiovascular disease which is where folate and vitamin B6 may help.
A study by Rimm and colleagues found that women with higher intakes of folate (from food, supplements, or both) had a substantially lower risk for coronary heart disease.
An analysis by Li and colleagues also indicated “a 10% lower risk of stroke and a 4% lower risk of overall CVD with folic acid supplementation.”
While these results are promising, there is yet more research to be done in order to draw stronger conclusions on the benefits of folate and vitamin B6.
Pro tip: If you’re considering a supplement, be sure it includes all the different B vitamins. This is because each vitamin plays a crucial role in your body’s functions.
According to Women’s Health women over 50 need 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 and 1.5 milligrams of vitamin B6 on a daily basis. However, be sure to talk to your doctor about dosage.
As mentioned, osteoporosis is a large concern for menopausal women. According to Dr. Janet Gibbens, an obstetrician and gynecologist with Women’s Health Today, “osteoporosis is thought to be caused by estrogen loss plus inadequate calcium and vitamin D.”
Vitamin D is one of the vital vitamins for menopause because it’s necessary for healthy bones. This is because it helps bones use calcium and phosphorous.
A study by Wang and colleagues also found that a deficiency in vitamin D is associated with cardiovascular disease.
Aside from its role in decreasing the risk for osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease, vitamin D may also ease anxiety, depression, and other low mood symptoms menopausal women typically experience.
Although more research is needed, a few studies have indicated that menopausal women experiencing hot flashes may benefit from vitamin E supplementation.
A study by Ziaei and colleagues found that there was a reduction in hot flashes in menopausal women after using vitamin E therapies. Based on their findings, the researchers recommend vitamin E for treating hot flashes.
This vitamin also has antioxidant properties that help soak up free radicals that can damage cells. Keeping this in mind, a study by Tribble found that a higher antioxidant intake is associated with lower disease risk.
The study also suggests that vitamin E supplementation may be beneficial. This is pointed out in another study by Stampfer and colleagues. Their research suggests that the use of vitamin E supplements among middle-aged women is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease.
Pro tip: Aside from supplements, you can also find vitamin E in foods like leafy green vegetables, beans, and nuts and seeds.
Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin which plays an important role in bone health7. For this reason, it’s especially important for postmenopausal women as it helps prevent a decrease in bone mineral density.
A study by Braam and colleagues found that vitamin K1, when co-administered with minerals and vitamin D, may substantially contribute to reducing postmenopausal bone loss.
Furthermore, another study by Ushiroyama and colleagues suggests that a continuous combination therapy with vitamin K2 and D3 may be useful for increasing vertebral bone mass in postmenopausal women.
Vitamin K is primarily found in foods like green leafy vegetables, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli. However, the bacteria in our intestines can make vitamin K as well8. With this in mind, be mindful of your vitamin K levels after taking a course of antibiotics as it may disrupt the bacterial cultures responsible for this vitamin’s creation.
Not only does a woman’s risk for osteoporosis increase when estrogen levels begin to decrease, her risk for cardiovascular disease increases as well. With this in mind, a diet with adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids can certainly help. This is due to their anti-inflammatory properties and triglyceride-lowering effects.
Several studies have indicated that omega-3 keeps bones healthy. One study by Tartibian and colleagues found that omega-3 supplementation with long-term aerobic exercise was beneficial in reducing inflammation and increasing bone mineral density in post-menopausal women.
On top of osteoporosis, menopausal and postmenopausal women also have an increased risk for cardiovascular disease.
It’s known that women in the postmenopausal stage are more at risk for higher levels of triglycerides which may be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. While there is a debate over the extent to which triglycerides contribute to cardiovascular disease, according to Miller and colleagues there is a long-standing association between the two.
With this in mind, prevention is better than cure and a diet that includes foods or supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids can make a difference.
This is supported by a study by Backes and colleagues which found that omega-3 fatty acids appear to be “effective in reducing TG (triglyceride) levels in patients with hypertriglyceridemia.”
Keep in mind that there are a few different types of omega-3 fatty acids which include EPA, DHA, and ALA. EPA and DHA are mostly derived from fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, while ALA can be found in flaxseed and other plant sources.
These are a few vitamins for menopause we’d recommend looking into. However, be sure to talk to your doctor about what dosage would be right for you.