5 common vitamin & mineral deficiencies in menopause

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Menopause Advisor
Ask Eileen

29 June 2020

Today's topic

Today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I take a look at five common vitamin and mineral deficiencies in menopause.

We know that menopause takes a lot of energy from us. And that energy is fuelled from the food that we eat. So, if our diet is not particularly good, if we're not looking after ourselves well enough or if there are issues, such as stress that can burn up extra nutrition, then several deficiencies can show up in specific symptoms in the menopause.

Common nutritional deficiencies in menopause

I'm going to take a look at five of them today, including how to tell if you are low in these nutrients, how much you need daily and how to increase your intake of these nutrients through your diet and supplements.

1. Calcium

Calcium is vital for our bones. And we know that during menopause, one of the main symptoms can be bone loss which can make you are at risk of developing osteoporosis.

Other low calcium symptoms can be things like numbness and tingling. It can be muscle cramps. You can get lethargy, fatigue. You just don't feel like doing anything and you can end up with weak nails and nails that are breaking a lot.

How much do you need daily?

The amount of calcium that you need in your diet, if you're over 50, is roughly 1,200 milligrams a day.

How to increase calcium intake through your diet

The best foods that you can get these from are things like dark green leafy vegetables, so that would be things like cabbages, and spinach, and curly kale, and cauliflower, and broccoli.

Also, nuts and seeds, as well as tofu or soya if you're vegetarian or vegan. Small fish where you eat the bones, like sardines are also rich in calcium. You can get calcium-fortified foods. Very often, bread and cereals will be fortified with calcium.

Dairy foods are fine in moderation, but they are high in fat. So I don't recommend that you rely on these for your calcium intake, but it's certainly fine just to have a small amount daily.

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2. Magnesium

For those of you that have been with me for a while, you know how much I go on and on about how important magnesium amd why it is a vital nutrient during menopause.

If you're low in magnesium you're going to get muscle cramps. There is anxiety. You can also experience headaches, low mood, mood swings, palpitations, your sleep can be disrupted, and you can also get tingling, and pins and needles.

How much do you need daily?

The dose that you're looking at, again, for over 50, is about 320 milligrams a day. However, I feel, for the majority of menopausal women, your magnesium needs to go sky-high and there is no reason, in most instances, why you can't go a little bit higher than that one.

How to increase magnesium intake through your diet

Foods that are rich in magnesium include dark green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, and pulses such as beans and lentils. Avocados are also great, as well as tofu and whole grains.

3. Vitamin D

More and more information is coming out about how important vitamin D is for us during the menopause. Low vitamin D can affect your mood and your bones. It can also contribute to fatigue, joint pain, low immune function, and hair loss.

How much do you need daily?

In normal circumstances, we would recommend about 400 IU a day to be taken ongoing. This is a safe low dose that you can take for as long as you need to. If you have been prescribed a higher dose by your practitioner or your doctor, then, follow that.

But we do not recommend that you go on a high dose vitamin D if you have not had your vitamin D levels tested because research is now coming out showing that very high levels of vitamin D ongoing can cause certain side effects and is not going to be beneficial for you at all. So it's really important here that you don't knowingly overdose on vitamin D if you don't need it.

How to increase vitamin d intake through your diet

Unfortunately, there's not a lot of foods rich in vitamin D, because our main source of vitamin D is having it manufactured in our skin when we're out in sunlight. But foods that you can eat to help would be things like mushrooms, dairy products, such as butter, milk, and cheese, but, again, don't rely on those because they are high in fat. Also, eggs and oily fish contain vitamin d.

4. Zinc

This is another important one. Low levels of zinc can affect your taste and smell and can also cause low immunity. It can cause hair loss. You can also end up with that kind of apathy where you just can't be bothered with anything at all.

We know, too, that zinc is really important for the production of hormones. So just when we need more, very often we're deficient in our diet.

How much do you need daily?

For normal zinc supplements, you're looking at about 15 milligrams per day. That's normally considered a good safe dose to take ongoing.

How to increase zinc intake through your diet

Foods rich in zinc are nuts and seeds, red meat, beans, chickpeas, certain fruits, and avocado.

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5. B vitamins

Low B vitamins can affect your memory and concentration and can cause fatigue. You can get digestive problems, anxiety, and it can also cause pins and needles.

How much do you need daily?

I usually recommend what's called a vitamin B-50 milligram complex, which has a nice general level of a combination of vitamin Bs so that you're not missing out on any particular one.

How to increase B vitamin intake through your diet

Foods high in B vitamins are whole grains and pulses, red meat. beans and lentils. It can be nuts and seeds, and your dark green leafy vegetables, and certain fruits as well.

A good diet will help you avoid these nutrient deficiencies

So, as you can see, from all these five deficiencies that can occur, a lot of the foods that you eat contain a range of them. So, in your diet, try and regularly incorporate nuts and seeds, dark green leafy vegetables, the occasional avocado, wholegrains, and just a small amount of dairy if you are not vegan. If so, then you can look at tofu.

And this range of food, if you incorporate in your daily diet, will give you a nice mix of all five of these nutrients that you need daily.

So, I hope this has given you food for thought. As I mentioned at the beginning, this is not a comprehensive list. If you don't fancy any of the foods that I've talked about, then all you need to do is Google for calcium-rich foods or magnesium-rich foods and a whole long list will come out. So have some happy Googling.

Until next time, take care.

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