12 Hair loss, weight gain and muscle pain | A.Vogel Talks Menopause

Eileen answers your questions on hair loss, weight gain and muscle pain after exercise

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Ask Eileen

14 December 2015

Read the full video transcript below

Today's topic

Hello, and welcome to my weekly video blog. And today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I am going to be answering some more of your questions that you have sent in, so let’s have a look…

Question 1: Is hair loss part of the menopause?

The first one is from Kelly and she is 48 and she is asking: ‘Is hair loss part of the menopause and if so will it improve afterwards?

Now hair loss or feeling that your hair is getting really brittle, or it’s losing its sheen, or getting very unmanaged, is actually very common in the menopause and is usually just caused by falling hormones. But, there can be lots of contributory factors here, so let’s take a little look at those:

One of the most important things that you need for good hair growth is protein, and remember in the A.Vogel Talks Menopause when I was talking about diet, how important protein actually is. So make sure you top that up in your diet or get a protein powder shake and have one maybe two or three times a week.

Stress can be a big issue in hair loss. So if this is you, if you feel there is a lot of stress going on in your life, and don’t forget the menopause itself will stress your body even if you’re not really aware of it. So you can look at stress relieving remedies such as wild oats or passiflora as well.

The other thing that can be a big factor, especially if you start to lose your hair at the beginning of the menopause, is if you have had heavy periods on the run up, because if you have heavy periods or prolonged periods, you can end up being anaemic and anaemia can cause hair loss. So if this is you, if you have the combination of both, it may be an idea just to get your iron levels checked out by your doctor. But in the meantime, you may find a gentle iron tonic really helpful for this particular problem.

Now, will hair growth improve after the menopause? This is a tricky one because in most instances yes, it can do, but it can also depend on other factors as I have just mentioned – your diet, your stress levels, whether you’re actually getting the right nutrition for hair growth. So it’s very important to keep your hair healthy during and after the menopause – just check over all these things I have mentioned and if necessary just get things checked out by your doctor.

Oh and don’t forget, that in the menopause your thyroid can end up getting a little sluggish or you could end up with low thyroid symptoms. It’s very important if you feel that you have done all these things and your hair still isn’t improving, then this may be one of the issues, in which case just ask your doctor to check your thyroid levels for you.

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Question 2: I'm gaining weight

Now question two. This is from Aveda and she is 45 and her question is: ‘My menopause started a year ago and I’m not feeling that great. I’m gaining weight, which is having an effect on my confidence. I do exercise regularly and walk a lot so why I’m I not losing weight?

This is such a common problem during menopause. Again, there are a couple of things going on that could actually be causing it. When your hormones start to fall, this can actually slow down your metabolism, just part and parcel of the way your hormones are actually falling. We also find there can be problems metabolising carbohydrates, which basically means your body finds it more difficult to deal with carbohydrates and it just stores them as fat. So if you have got lowering metabolism and you’re actually storing more of your food in fat, then that is going to increase your weight. And because your metabolism has slowed down, exercising just doesn’t actually work at all.

There is also another factor at play here and the scenario, I mean I get so many women emailing saying ‘I’m cutting my food right down, I’m hardly eating anything, I’m exercising 4 or 5 days a week, an hour a time down the gym and I’m still putting on weight. What’s happening?’ This is all to do with the survival mechanism of the body.

Remember all the stress that is going on, so our nervous system, because you are cutting calories, your nervous system is thinking ‘there is a famine coming; I’m going to have to hold onto as much fat as I can’. So your metabolism slows down even further and if you then keep exercising the body is going ‘Ugh there is too much energy going out here, I need to slow down even further’. So the less food you eat and the more you exercise the more you will put on weight and the harder it is to lose weight.

So the really important thing here, if this is you, you need a good proper diet, but cut out the carbs or cut the carbs right down, so you can exclude this problem with the carbs. Have plenty of protein, loads of veg and fruit and a few whole grains would be really good for you as well. So just remember that particular one.

Question 3: My muscles ache at night after exercising

Now, here’s question number 3 and this is from Maxine who is 47 and she is saying: ‘Hi, I’m a menopausal woman and when I go swimming or do yoga my muscles ache at night and I can’t sleep because of it. They don’t hurt when I don’t exercise, so what’s causing the pain? Should I stop exercising?

Well no, don’t stop exercising because exercise, gentle regular exercise during the menopause is very important for bone health, muscle health and to keep your metabolism ticking over, so don’t give up the exercise.

But this can very often be due to the simple fact that you are very low in magnesium. Now magnesium is something you will hear me talk about time and time again. Magnesium is a very important mineral in the menopause. It’s needed for muscle function, it’s needed for muscle relaxation, it’s needed for mood, it’s needed for sleep and it’s needed to help your hair as well.

So during the menopause we have discovered that low oestrogen can actually affect the uptake in utilisation of magnesium in the menopause. You need magnesium when the body is stressed, so you are in a situation here where you need more magnesium, your body is burning more of it up and when you then exercise on top of that the muscles are lacking magnesium, which will then give you the muscle aches or the cramps after you exercise as well.

So this one is really quite a simple one, just make sure that you seriously increase your magnesium in your diet. Now you can do this is two different ways. Check that you are getting plenty of magnesium rich foods in your diet. So that would include things like, nuts and seeds, dried fruit, dark green leafy vegetables and a few pulses, and things like beans and lentils as well. But you can also take a magnesium supplement. Now I tend to recommend either liquid magnesium or a magnesium citrate capsule. And you’re looking at possibly between 200 and 400mg a day.

So Maxine, on the days when you’re actually exercising it would be a good idea to take a magnesium supplement with the meal you take before you go out to exercise. You might also find that taking another supplement before you go to bed will also help you sleep well too.

Until next week...

So I hope you have enjoyed these questions and you’ve found them helpful. Next time I’m going to be talking about one of the most common problems that we have in the menopause, which is joints and muscles aches and pains. So I do hope you can join me again next week for another edition of A.Vogel Talks Menopause.


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Did you know?

You won’t get the menopause the minute you turn 50! The average starting age is actually between 45 and 55 and it can often depend on a number of factors including hereditary, weight and health, however every single woman will have an individual menopause.

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