We have already talked about the importance of nutrition and vitamins during menopause. In fact, vitamin depletion can cause so many problems and can also make menopause symptoms worse (and we really don’t need that). We live a life in which everything has to be fast, always ready, we never want to wait, but when we enter menopause we discover that menopause takes its time and its toll: symptoms may last days, months years, and vary significantly across women. We realise it’s time to slow down a bit and take care of ourselves, dedicating more time to balance our diet and eat good food.
Balancing nutrients, balancing our minds, souls, and basically ourselves, between the waves of our new life: life after the menopause, which can be as amazing- if not better– than before. Today we go through nutrition again, talking about vitamins, which are like protein, building blocks of our bodies. Many vitamins play a pivotal role not only for body function for which are designed but also they co-work with the immune system.
An example is vitamin D which in the last years, has been considered very close to a hormone, for the multiple functions that it exerts. Another very important Vitamin, is the Vitamin B group. The B vitamins, which include thiamine, niacin, B12 and folic acid, are often referred to as the ‘stress’ vitamins. There are many symptoms of B vitamin deficiency, and these include tension, irritability, difficulty managing stress, poor concentration, and anxiety. B vitamins have in fact a complex role to play in your body, and ensuring you have optimum levels during menopause can help to support stress management.
There are many deficiency you can go through during menopause, amongst them there is also vitamin B12 deficiency, which is linked to insomnia. Again, insomnia is a pretty common symptom during menopause. For this reason, women experiencing menopause could consider stocking up on foods that contain B12, such as liver, mackerel, sardines, salmon, red meat, and milk. You can take a supplement if you are vegan. It is recommended for women over 50 to take 2.4 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin B12 each day. On top of that, this vitamin helps the body to make antibodies, breaking down proteins, and keeping blood sugar within normal ranges.
Vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine) helps make serotonin, a chemical responsible for transmitting brain signals. Serotonin is basically responsible for our mood. Which I reckon is very important especially during menopause. In fact, as women age, serotonin levels drop. Fluctuating serotonin levels in fact, may be an important contributing factor in the mood swings and depression common in menopause. For this reason, taking a vitamin B-6 supplement during and after menopause may help to prevent symptoms caused by low serotonin levels. These include loss of energy and depression.
Vitamin B-6 instead is easily found in the following foods: avocados, bananas, legumes, beef, nuts, poultry, whole grains and fortified cereals. It has been demonstrated that Vitamin B-6 deficiencies can givesymptoms of confusion, depression, irritability and damage to the nerves in hands, feet, and arms. Because women are at increased risk for depression, caused by the massive changes and the hormonal fluctuation during menopause, it is pivotal to maintain healthy levels of vitamin B6. During menopause, even though your ovaries gradually stop their sex hormone production, your adrenal glands and fat cells will not stop to produce these hormones. B vitamins represent a great support to this production: for example, B3 and folic acid are needed to produce oestrogen. As you go through menopause, your adrenal glands become an important site for sex hormone production, together with the release of stress hormones. If you’re suffering from stress, the small levels of oestrogen and other sex hormones produced by your adrenals may also be affected. More important you don’t have to forget, your body still needs oestrogen to protect your bone health. If your adrenal glands are under pressure, you’ll find it much more difficult to manage stress, and you might be overwhelmed by small problems. The conversion and production of hormones from your adrenal glands relies heavily on B vitamins, especially B5 (pantothenic acid).
Your nervous system is also responsible for how your body responds to stress, with the sympathetic nervous system controlling the so called ‘fight or flight’ stress response. It relies massively on good B vitamin intake, particularly B12, B1 and B3. For example, B12 is needed to make the myelin sheaths that surround your nerve cells, which provide insulation for nerve impulses. Keeping your nervous system in good working order is vital for helping your body to manage stress. Having a healthy, working liver can help with hormonal balance. It’s the liver which breaks down excess hormones for excretion through the gut. The two different phases of liver detoxification of your sex hormones rely on good levels of all the B vitamins.
The B vitamins basically work in harmony together, which means that a deficiency in one can affect the efficiency of another. So, in order to get them functioning properly, you need a good intake of all B vitamins, rather than focusing on one or two. Below you can find the best food sources of the B vitamins – you’ll notice a pattern— meat, fish, eggs, wholegrains, fresh fruit and vegetables.
•B1 thiamin: contained in vegetables especially peas, fresh and dried fruit, eggs, wholegrains, liver
•B2 riboflavin: present in milk, eggs, rice and fortified cereals
•B3 Niacin: mostly meat, fish, wholegrains, eggs, milk
•B5 Pantothenic Acid: easily found in chicken, beef, potatoes, oats, kidney, eggs, broccoli, wholegrains
•B6 Pyridoxine: again pork, chicken, turkey, fish, wholegrains, eggs, pulses, soya, peanuts, potatoes, bananas, avocados
•B12: meat, fish, milk, cheese and eggs. Vegetarian sources include fortified foods and some sea vegetables. If you are strictly vegan you might need to take a supplement.
•Folic acid: green leafy vegetables, liver, peas, chickpeas, brown rice, asparagus, oatmeal, avocados
If you think you are deficient in one of the vitamin mentioned, start from now to try to compensate the deficiency. Your body and mind will benefit.
Shop my MenoBlend, a daily supplement with
- Calcium which is needed for the maintenance of normal bones.
- Vitamin C contributes to normal collagen formation of the skin and bones.
- Complex B vitamins including; Folic Acid, Niacin (Vitamin B3) & Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5), which contribute to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue.
- B6 vitamins contributes to the regulation of hormonal activity.