A quick guide to the importance of vitamins and minerals in female older age from our therapist Lynne Grant.
The dramatic decline of oestrogen that occurs around and after the menopause can have a detrimental effect on a woman’s health.
This can lead to problems such as:
• anxiety and/or low mood
• hot flushes/night sweats
• dry hair and skin
• vaginal dryness
• loss of bone density
Loss of bone density (osteoporosis) is particularly harmful as it can increase the risk of bone fractures as well as painful conditions like osteoarthritis. Vitamin D is probably the most well-known substance involved in bone formation and maintenance. We cannot store vitamin D; it is primarily manufactured in the skin upon contact with sunshine. This can be a problem during the winter months and living in the not-so-sunny UK! Vitamin D supplementation is best taken in its cholecaliferol form (D3). People with darker skin pigmentation including those from African and Asian populations, increasing age and a higher body fat are particularly at an increased risk of vitamin D deficiency.
There are also other co-factors involved in the building and formation of bony matrix; calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, zinc, boron and silica. All of which can be taken together in a multivitamin/mineral form.
Magnesium, in particular can help with menopausal side-effects. It supports and balances hormones, nourishes the nervous system and is vital to energy production in every cell in the body. In this way, magnesium supplementation can help to ease menopausal anxiety, muscle aches and pains, fatigue and hot flushing. Magnesium is best taken as magnesium citrate as this ensures maximum absorption by the body.
Omega 3 fish oil is also beneficial. They provide us with essential fatty acids (DHA and EPA) that help to keep cells supple thus maintaining joint flexibility and blood vessel elasticity (thereby reducing cholesterol and blood pressure), keep skin and hair healthy, improve brain function and encourage the production of prostaglandin 3 which is an important anti-inflammatory. DHA and EPA can be found in oily fish like salmon and herring but it may be better to take a good quality stable omega 3 fish oil to achieve the maximum health benefits. It is important that stable fish oil is used as other; poorer quality supplements can alter blood sugar.
It is clear that menopausal signs and symptoms can be helped by taking dietary supplements; nevertheless advice should be taken before starting any supplements.
Written by Lynne Grant, Acupuncturist and Nutritional advisor.