Eating a nutrient-rich and varied diet can help you prevent some of the health conditions caused by menopause-related hormonal changes in the body. The diet should include plenty of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and nuts. Fish, chicken, and dairy products are recommended non-vegan sources of protein. For vegans, these can be replaced with legumes, tofu, and quinoa.
Fatty fish is an important source of omega-3 fatty acids vital to heart health. In case you are not a fan of fish, there are omega-3 supplements available.
The diet should provide the body with sufficient amounts of micronutrients. Women in menopause especially need the micronutrients that help keep their bones healthy, such as calcium and vitamin D.
Calcium and vitamin D
The drop in estrogen levels during the menopausal change and later in life causes your body to lose bone mass. That’s why it’s vital to get more calcium to maintain bones, teeth, nails, and hair health. Common food sources of calcium include dairy products, fish with edible bones, and fortified foods.
You also need more vitamin D to help your body absorb calcium. Vitamin D can be found in fatty fish and fortified foods. In addition, your skin synthesizes vitamin D when exposed to the sun. But as the same solar radiation causes skin aging and increases the risk of skin cancer, it’s best to use a sunscreen with UV filters and get vitamin D from food sources and supplements instead.
According to research, women aged 50 years and younger need 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day, and women older than 50 need 1,200 milligrams of calcium per day. As for vitamin D, the recommended intake for women aged 70 and younger is 600 IU per day, and for women older than 70, it’s 800 IU per day.
Vitamin deficiency can also cause symptoms of muscle weakness and fatigue. If this is the case, your doctor can recommend that you check your vitamin D blood level and, if necessary, increase the supplementation dose.
Note that too much calcium and vitamin D can be bad for your health, leading to kidney stones and/or symptoms of fatigue and pain. This is, however, very rare, especially when you use the dosages recommended above.