During menopause the decrease in estrogen causes a cascade of physical, mental and emotional changes that are complex. Menopause is a normal part of aging and although we wish there was, unfortunately there is not anything you can do to reverse or prevent menopause.
The vitamin and mineral needs of your body do not change much during menopause. However, pay close attention to these nutrients to optimize your health goals during this stage of change in your life and get the most out of your diet.
Sodium is essential to a healthful diet. However, sticking to the right amount is important during this stage of life. Too much sodium in the diet increases the risk of having a stroke, which is one of the leading causes of death for women. (1) (2)
Pay close attention. Keep your daily intake to 2,300 milligrams. You can do this! Only choose a food after checking the label and include more fresh whole foods in your diet.
As estrogen decreases cholesterol increases. (2) Diets that include plant-based fiber has been shown to help reduce cholesterol, this is important because heart disease is the leading cause of death for women. (3) Make sure you meet your fiber needs by eating plant-based foods.
Pay close attention. Vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes and nuts all contain fiber. Women should get 25 grams of fiber per day and it should be easy to get enough by including some combination of these foods at every meal. These foods also have plant-based nutrients that are anti-inflammatory and full of antioxidants.
Calcium, magnesium, vitamin D and K
Osteoporosis is also of great concern during this time in life because as estrogen decreases bone mineral density is lost. (2)
Pay close attention. Women over 50 need 1200 milligrams of calcium, 320 milligrams of magnesium, 90 micrograms of vitamin K and up to 1000 international units of vitamin D per day. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation try to meet this needs by food and if not then do so through dietary supplementation. (4)
Plant based estrogens called phytoestrogens are commonly discussed in relationship to menopause. The majority of phytoestrogens in our diet come from soy. At this point there is a mixture of results related to the effectiveness of soy in reducing menopause symptoms or reducing the risk of cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis that are associated with menopause. (2)(5)