Menopause supplements can offer a helping hand to ease the burden of hot flushes, night sweats, joint pain, anxiety and even a low libido.
For many women, these menopause symptoms can have a real impact on everyday life. However menopause supplements could offer a solution. As can certain foods.
Here's everything you need to know before deciding whether menopause supplements could work for you...
Do women need menopause supplements?
Menopause supplements can be crucial when hormone levels start to change. That's because, during perimenopause, levels of the hormone oestrogen, fluctuate.
And, as women age, the production of all the female hormones by the pituitary gland start to decline. “The decline in oestrogen occurs because as an egg develops it produces oestrogen, so if there is no egg to develop then this source of oestrogen will cease,” says nutritionist Shona Wilkinson.
That's not all. Progesterone – the counterbalancing hormone to oestrogen – production also stops when a woman has had her last period.
“Where oestrogen levels drop by 40-60% and progesterone levels drop to nearly zero, it causes an imbalance in peri and menopausal women," says Harley Street gynaecologist Dr Tania Adib. This is where menopause supplements can really help to balance things out.
However, it's important to note that menopause supplements may not be enough to support your menopause journey in isolation. You may need to speak to your GP about treatments such Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) or HRT alternatives, including Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT).
Foods that help balance hormones
Not sure you want to take menopause supplements yet? The first way you could try to control any symptoms of the menopause is through food.
The following foods are healthy and beneficial for all stages of your life, but could be particularly helpful with tackling some of the symptoms of the menopause - especially following the news that oestrogen could affect coronavirus symptoms.
Radishes have a high silica content, required for collagen production, and essential for maintaining healthy hair, skin and nails during the menopause - a great bonus, given that women can often suffer with menopausal acne or lacklustre skin during this life stage.
- Edamame beans, linseeds, sesame seeds, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage
These foods are all naturally high in phytoestrogens, which mimic the effects of oestrogen in the body. Women experience low oestrogen during the menopause, and it is this which can trigger menopausal symptoms such as vaginal dryness (which in turn can make sex painful), hot flushes and mood swings.
Berries are packed with antioxidants, which help to fight cell-damaging free radicals in the body. One study also found that middle-aged participants who consumed wild blueberries had less cognitive fatigue when completing demanding tasks. For some women the menopause can come with accompanying moments of 'brain fog', so brain healthy food is always welcome.
Complex carbohydrates like wholegrains and green veg can help to support healthy hair. This is key, as hormonal changes mean some women may experience hair loss or thinning during the menopause. Avoid extreme low-carb diets, says trichologist Anabel Kingsley, "An energy deficit affects the production of hair cells before it affects any other cells in the body."
- Essential fats
"Essential fats are needed to synthesise hormones and neurotransmitters, as well as protect the heart, support joints and plump up skin," says Laura Southern, a Nutritional Therapist, at London Gynaecology. "We get essential fats from oily fish (“smasht”- sardines, mackerel, anchovies, salmon, herring, trout) and from some plants (olives, olive oils, avocado, nuts and seeds)."
- A rainbow of vegetables
The more colourful the better. These foods support growth and repair, reduce sugar cravings, keep you full and support your skin healthy with a cocktail of anti-ageing nutrients. Always good - whether you're going through the menopause or not!
What foods make the menopause worse?
- Processed foods
Often full of added salts and sugars, these zap our energy levels, add to weight gain, and contribute to feeling sluggish tired. And so, just like at any other stage of your life, these are best avoided.
Particularly in processed forms. It leads to glycation, which is damaging to the skin, and can increase weight gain. Eat lots of sugar and refined carbs and blood sugar soars. Glycation is where sugar molecules bond to proteins (that includes collagen in the skin) making it stiff and inflexible. Hello premature ageing and wrinkles!
Supplements for menopause night sweats
Experiencing night sweats? A menopause supplement could help. In fact, 33% of women say night sweats had an impact on their confidence levels, found Healthspan.
Black cohosh is believed to reduce menopausal symptoms through a direct action on the brain. It lowers levels of LH (luteinising hormone) to help normalise oestrogen-progesterone balance. “It also has an effect on dilation of blood vessels, helping to relieve hot flashes, night sweats, low libido, anxiety and mood swings as well as improving sleep,” says Dr Sarah Brewer, Medical Director at Healthspan.
VIEW NOW: Healthspan Black Cohosh Menopause Relief
Supplements for menopause joint pain
Falling oestrogen levels are thought to be one of the main causes of menopausal joint pain. “Oestrogen regulates fluid levels in the body; therefore, if levels are low, the body becomes less able to hold water. This affects the hydration and lubrication of the joint tissues, including the cartilage, ligaments and tendons,” says Dr Brewer.
The root of devil’s claw is used in herbal remedies for the treatment of muscle and joint pains as well as backache.
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Stay hydrated, too – carry a bottle of water around with you on walks, and drink a glass of water upon waking to keep joint tissues lubricated.
Menopause supplements for sleep
Many women experience sleep problems during menopause. In turn, Shona explains that a lack of sleep has been proven to affect the immune system, making you more prone to sickness.
A herbal supplement designed to enhance sleep could help.
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“It contains nine therapeutic ingredients including bee royal jelly, Montmorency cherry, saffron and griffonia seed extract which provides 5- HTP, a substance which converts into feel-good hormone serotonin and then melatonin, the sleep hormone.”
Shona adds that sleeping with earplugs and an eye mask could help too.
Supplements for menopause fatigue
Feeling fatigued? As oestrogen levels decrease during the menopause, thyroid function is affected. “An underactive thyroid can cause symptoms including fatigue," says nutritional expert Keeley Berry. "Tiredness or exhaustion that goes on for long periods of time can affect your ability to get on and enjoy life.”
The mineral magnesium could help reduce these feelings.
“Magnesium is essential for restful sleep, so our bodies can replenish whilst we rest,” adds Keeley. Other symptoms indicating a lack of magnesium include insomnia and weakness as well as muscle trembling, cramps and constipation.
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Menopause supplements for libido
Lower levels of sex hormones oestrogen and testosterone can cause a decline in sexual desire. Plus, 22% of women struggle with vaginal dryness according to Healthspan; another reason why a sex drive might plummet.
Help is at hand with sea buckthorn oil, which can reduce dryness throughout the body. This is thanks to sea buckthorn oil’s especially high levels of omega 7 as well as omega 9 fatty acids.
VIEW NOW: Healthspan Omega 7 Sea Buckthorn Oil
“A study involving 98 postmenopausal women experiencing vaginal dryness, itching or burning found sea buckthorn oil was significantly more effective than placebo in relieving symptoms,” reveals Dr Brewer.
Want to boost a dwindling sex drive? Nature's Plus BioAdvanced Menopause Support can also help stimulate and maintain libido, thanks to maca tuber and damiana leaf.
Supplements for menopause bloating
As oestrogen can fluctuate throughout peri menopause, high levels can cause water retention. This can then lead to menopausal bloating. Plus, stress and changes in appetite can also cause bloat.
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The silicic acid in the gel creates a protective lining in the stomach and intestine. It acts as a magnet physically binding with toxins, irritants and pathogens which reduces their ability to cause inflammation, passing them naturally through the digestive tract.
Supplements for menopause anxiety
Menopause anxiety is linked with the falling levels of progesterone. If you are willing and able to take hormone replacement therapy (HRT) this will solve the problem.
Sage can also offer a helping hand.
“Sage appears to have a direct effect on the brain," says Dr Brewer. "A study involving 30 healthy volunteers found that taking 300mg sage leaf extracts significantly improved mood and reduced anxiety. Plus, taking 600mg sage leaf extracts increased alertness, calmness and contentedness compared with a placebo."
VIEW NOW: Healthspan Sage
Cannabidiol (CBD) is another option. “It interacts with the brain’s own endocannabinoid system to reduce anxiety, muscle tension, restlessness and fatigue,” adds Dr Brewer.
VIEW NOW: Dragonfly Narrow Spectrum CBD Oil 500mg
Which one will you choose?
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