A healthy diet—lots of veggies and fruit, lean protein, legumes and beans, healthy fats and carbs—is one of the best ways to manage your hormones and minimize menopausal symptoms. But sometimes you need a little more, like supplements, to keep your body strong and well. Additionally, your nutrient needs may change as you age, requiring more of some things (protein and calcium) and less of others (iron and folic acid).
Here’s a rundown of 10 key nutrients you want to make sure that you’re getting. When you’re eating right and taking appropriate supplements, you’ll feel more like you’re thriving—instead of battling—through this transition stage of life.
NOTE: You should discuss any changes to your diet with your doctor, particularly if you're taking medications which may interact. Be sure your doctor has the full list of supplements and medications you're taking. Even the "natural" stuff can be dangerous if mixed with the wrong medications.
For many women in our Menopause Solutions Facebook group, magnesium (particularly magnesium glycinate) has been a game changer. We do know many adult women don't get enough of this mineral.
Why you need it: It’s involved in a wide variety of processes in the body—everything from muscle and nerve function to blood sugar and blood pressure regulation, bone formation, and energy metabolism.
How it can help during menopause: Magnesium is important for improving heart health, reducing blood pressure, decreasing risk of diabetes, combatting osteoporosis, and particularly if you take magnesium citrate, easing constipation—all issues that increase with menopause. Magnesium glycinate specifically may also help with calming anxiety, easing joint pain, improving sleep and hot flashes as well as cold flashes.
Recommended daily intake: 320 mg
Good food sources: Spinach, pumpkin seeds, black beans, tuna, soy milk, brown rice, nuts like almonds and cashews, avocado, edamame, nonfat yogurt, bananas.
Caution: Excessive doses of magnesium could lead to diarrhea, nausea, and cramping. To be on the safe side, keep your intake to no more than 350 mg.
Your body can get vitamin A from two forms. The retinol form comes directly from animal and dairy products. The carotenoid form, beta carotene from veggie and fruit sources, is converted into vitamin A in your body.
Why you need it: Supports your immune system, vision, and skin health.
How it can help during menopause: While vitamin A does not have any benefits proven to specifically target menopause symptoms, its role in supporting vision, immunity and thyroid function may play an even greater role during menopause at a time when hormone changes add an additional stress to the body.
Recommended daily intake: 700 mcg
Good food sources: Beef and lamb liver, butter, cheese and some oily fish. The body can also produce vitamin A from the beta carotene in veggie and fruit sources such as sweet potato, winter squash, kale, carrots and sweet red peppers and mango, cantaloupe, and grapefruit. Vitamin A is fat-soluble, meaning the body absorbs it better if it’s eaten with a little fat, preferably the healthy, plant-based kind (olive oil, fatty fish, nuts and seeds, avocados).
Caution: Taking too much vitamin A can result in dizziness, nausea, vomiting, headache, or blurry vision, and over time could increase your risk of bone fractures. Really high doses can also increase risk of lung cancer in susceptible individuals. Also, talk to your doctor if you’re taking any blood thinning or retinol medications.
These are two of a group of eight B vitamins.
Why you need them: B6 is necessary for optimal metabolism, immune function, and supporting the body’s ability to manage inflammation. B12 is needed for the formation of red blood cells and is key for increasing energy, protecting your heart and brain, supporting good gut health, and helping your nervous system and eyes work properly.
How it can help during menopause: Vitamin B6 may help ward off menopausal depression and increase energy by boosting serotonin. B vitamins may also help with insomnia and possibly even reduce hot flashes. They are also important for cognitive functions.
Recommended daily intake: For B6, 1.3 mg for women age 50 and younger and 1.5 mg for those 51 and older. For B12, 2.4 mcg for all adults.
Good food sources: For B6, salmon, chickpeas, tuna, chicken, fortified tofu, pork, sweet potatoes, bananas, potatoes, avocado, pistachios. For B12, shellfish, tuna, fortified cereals, beef, fortified soy milk, fortified tofu, low-fat milk, cheese, eggs.
Caution: Too much vitamin B6 can cause nerve damage, so make sure you don’t exceed 100 mg a day.
Eat a salad a day, that’s all we’re saying. This vitamin found often in leafy greens has been nicknamed “vitamin Kale.”
Why you need it: Helps with proper blood clotting, blood vessel health, and plays a role in supporting bone health.
How it can help during menopause: It’s important for bone density, which declines as you get older, increasing your risk for fractures. Eating one serving of leafy greens (a good source of vitamin K) a day may cut your risk of a hip fracture in half, according to the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study, one of the largest and longest running investigations into women’s health issues. A more recent study suggests it may also help with heavy period bleeding.
Recommended daily intake: 90 mcg
Good food sources: Leafy greens (kale, chard, lettuce, spinach), cruciferous veggies (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage), asparagus, okra, green beans, and soybean and canola oils. Vitamin K is fat-soluble, meaning the body absorbs it better if it’s eaten with a little fat, preferably the healthy, plant-based kind (olive and canola oil, fatty fish, nuts and seeds, avocados). Studies also show that vitamin K is even more effective when eaten with vitamin D.
Caution: Vitamin K is fat soluble so adding some fat like oil to the vitamin K-rich foods you’re eating will increase absorption. If you are taking anticoagulants, they may affect your vitamin K status, so talk with your doctor.
For decades, vitamin C has been touted as a remedy for the common cold. While research shows it won’t stop you from catching a cold, it may shorten its duration and severity if you regularly take supplements.
Why you need it: Heals wounds, maintains bones and cartilage, helps with the absorption of iron. It’s an antioxidant that protects against aging-related conditions and diseases.
How it can help during menopause: Vitamin C is important for maintaining bone density, which protects you against fractures later in life. It may also help ease hot flashes. And its antioxidant effect may help ward off heart disease which is more common after menopause.
Recommended daily intake: 75 mg
Good food sources: Guava, kiwi, red peppers, citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, kale, papaya.
Caution: Too much vitamin C can cause diarrhea, nausea, and stomach cramps. Don’t take more than 2,000 mg a day.
Calcium loss accelerates as estrogen declines, so this important mineral becomes even more vital as you enter perimenopause.
Why you need it: Keeps bones strong, maintains proper functioning of muscles and the nervous system.
Recommended daily intake: 1,000 mg for women age 50 and younger and 1,200 mg for those 51 and older.
Good food sources: Milk, yogurt, cheese, tofu, calcium-fortified orange juice, spinach, black-eyed peas, sardines, salmon, trout.
Caution: Too much calcium in supplement form may cause gastrointestinal symptoms and increased risk of cardiovascular disease. High intakes may also affect the absorption of other vitamins. Calcium from supplemental forms is best absorbed in smaller doses of 500mg or less. Aim to get the majority of your calcium from food and supplement where neeeded. If you’re 51 or older, limit your intake to no more than 2,000 mg total per day.
It’s nicknamed the “sunshine vitamin” because your body can make vitamin D from sunlight, the UVB rays, in particular. But even if you get outdoors a lot, you may not be getting enough. Sunscreen, pollution, clothing, and age reduce your body’s ability to produce vitamin D from the sun.
Why you need it: Helps the body absorb calcium, a building block for strong bones; important for proper functioning of muscles; supports heart health, neurological function, blood sugar regulation and immunity.
How it can help during menopause: It’s necessary for keeping bones strong and to stave off osteoporosis, thinning of the bones which can predispose you to fractures. It may also help to support brain function, decrease cognitive decline and fight off menopause depression.
Recommended daily intake: 600 IUs
Good food sources: Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and trout; cremini and portabella mushrooms that have been exposed to sunlight; fortified foods like milk, tofu, yogurt, orange juice, and cereals, pork, eggs. Vitamin D is fat-soluble, meaning the body absorbs it better if it’s eaten with a little fat, preferably the healthy, plant-based kind (olive and canola oil, fatty fish, nuts and seeds, avocados).
Caution: It can be difficult to get enough vitamin D from food and sun alone. If you’re not getting enough, look for a supplement containing vitamin D3. Avoid exceeding 4,000 IUs a day.
Many women don’t get enough Omega 3s, yet every cell in your body needs them - especially the eyes and brain. Omega 3s are also important for muscle activity, immune function, digestion and fertility.
Why you need it: Important for heart and brain health, involved in the function of the immune and endocrine (hormones) system, and helping the body manage inflammation.
How it can help during menopause: Risk of heart disease increases after menopause. Omega 3s may help keep triglyceride levels in check. They may also help with psychological issues, depression, and hot flashes.
Recommended daily intake: The National Institutes of Health recommends women consume 1100mg of omega-3s and for men to consume 1600mg. Consuming fish twice per week, supplementing, or a combination of the two can help to reach these levels.
Good food sources: Fatty fish like salmon, flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts, firm tofu, beans, canola oil, avocado.
Caution: Omega-3s can thin the blood, so if you’re on blood thinners, talk with your doctor before adding a supplement.
Your gut is a garden. Really! You have trillions of microorganisms hanging around inside your body, doing useful stuff like helping you digest, supporting mental health, and allowing you to use your food to support physiological function.
Why you need it: Life is hard on these critters: antibiotics, poor diet, illness, and stress can kill them off by the millions, leaving you susceptible to harmful bacteria and the diseases that come with them. Probiotics are live beneficial microbes that re-colonize the flora in your body.
How it can help during menopause: Probiotics can help with digestive issues many women confront around this time (bloating, gas, constipation), and they also support vaginal health by contributing to the optimal bacteria of the gut.
Recommended daily intake: There is no recommended amount. Look for probiotic supplements with at least 10 billion CFUs and at least five different bacteria strains.
Good food sources: Yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, tempeh, kimchi, sourdough bread and some cheeses.
Caution: Read the label of supplements to ensure that you store any probiotic properly; some may need to be refrigerated.
This one is a bit of an outlier being a spice vs. a nutrient, but there’s enough good evidence of its anti-inflammatory properties to make it worth considering. Plus, it’s delicious.
Why you need it: Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, can boost heart health, decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and may even reduce depression.
How it can help during menopause: Along with protecting you against diseases that are more likely after menopause, turmeric’s anti-inflammatory effect may also help with joint pain.
Recommended daily intake: More research is needed to determine recommended daily intake.
Good food sources: Curry dishes, tumeric teas, add tumeric to flavor smoothies, soups and stews.
Caution: It’s tough to get enough turmeric from food to have an effect, so supplements are usually needed. If taking in supplemental form, take with food to avoid gastrointestinal upset. If you’re taking blood-thinning medications, consult with your doctor before taking a curcumin supplement, as it can act as an anti-coagulant.
Partner with a Gennev Menopause Specialist to help you determine what supplements may be right for you to maximize your health and manage your menopause symptoms.
The information on the Gennev site is never meant to replace the care of a qualified medical professional. Hormonal shifts throughout menopause can prompt a lot of changes in your body, and simply assuming something is “just menopause” can leave you vulnerable to other possible causes. Always consult with your physician or schedule an appointment with one of Gennev's telemedicine doctors before beginning any new treatment or therapy.