As a youngster, I didn’t really understand the importance of eating healthy and nutritious food. Staples at our home were sandwiches and cinnamon buns – they were my go-to food when I was hungry.
After losing my parents way too early, I got really interested in the connection of food, gut and brain. Now that I know better, I always go for nutritious food! I follow a Keto-green way of eating and it has done a really good job for me. With the help of vitamins and minerals, my journey through menopause has become so much easier.
Food is your number one source of vitamins and minerals. You may need extra support from time to time but remember, that pills will never replace food.
If you haven’t yet, it’s never too late to start eating healthy! This is the best thing you can do for yourself and your body.
There are many types of vitamins and minerals, but let’s say there are some that are a perfect match for menopause!
What Are Vitamins and Minerals?
Vitamins and minerals are nutrients that are essential to life. They work behind the scenes, nourishing our organs and making hundreds of body functions possible. Without them, we wouldn’t survive a day!
Vitamins and minerals are important in all stages of life, but we need them even more during menopause! As our organs and body functions become sluggish, we need nutrients to support and maintain balance in our bodies.
In an ideal world, we could get all our vitamins and minerals from the food we eat. However, with today’s “modern diet”, many of us don’t get enough nutrients.
Besides this, we live a stressful life, which depletes our vitamins and mineral reserves. A deficiency can create a ripple of menopausal symptoms and may even worsen them.
Most of us group vitamins and minerals together, but they’re actually different!
Vitamins are organic compounds that are naturally found in living organisms, such as plants and animals. They are fragile nutrients that easily break down when exposed to air, heat or acids. For this reason, they are more challenging to transport and get absorbed into the body.
On the other hand, minerals are inorganic compounds that come from the earth or soil. Living organisms can’t produce minerals; however, plants absorb minerals from the soil they grow in, and animals eat plants. This is how we get minerals into our diets. Unlike vitamins, minerals can keep their structure despite harsh conditions.
Today, large-scale farming ruins our soil, which causes vitamin and mineral depletion. Many companies use pesticides and herbicides to keep their crops bug-free, but this leaves the soil hard and dry. As a result, degradation happens, and it strips off valuable nutrients from the soil. Other than that, modern farming grows plants intensively, not giving enough time for new minerals to be formed.
To meet the demands of society’s increasing food requirements, businesses use growth-enhancing chemicals to mass produce crops. However, plants can’t absorb nutrients at faster rates. As a result, harvested produce has low nutritional value.
In menopause, vitamins maintain the health of our hormone-producing glands. Minerals are the catalysts for hormone production to start. For this reason, minerals are very important for menopausal women.
The Best Vitamins and Minerals for Menopausal Women!
There are hundreds of vitamins and minerals, and each one has its own unique health benefits. I’ve handpicked the best and most important vitamins and minerals that can balance hormones and relieve menopause symptoms!
- Vitamin A (retinol) keeps our ovaries functioning at optimum levels. It also helps maintain healthy teeth, bones and skin. Besides this, vitamin A is popular for strengthening our immunity. Dark leafy vegetables such as kale, collard greens, pak choi and chard are rich in vitamin A!
- Vitamin B, especially vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and B12 (cobalamin) are two of the best vitamins to relieve mood swings, anxiety and depression. B6 and B12 help produce serotonin, a hormone that calms our nerves and helps us cope with stress. Besides this, they also improve sleep and reduce hot flashes. Avocado, legumes, nuts, poultry, and whole grains are rich in vitamin B6. Organic eggs, wild-caught fish, shellfish and poultry have high B12 content!
- Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a powerful antioxidant that can flush out toxins and fake hormones which are causing hormonal imbalance. Vitamin C-rich foods include citrus fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and spinach.
- Vitamin D or the “sunshine vitamin” helps absorb calcium in the body. With enough calcium, we can reduce the risk of osteoporosis during menopause. Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring are rich in vitamin D. A healthy dose of sunshine every day can also up your vitamin D!
- Vitamin E (tocopherol) is a potent detoxifier like vitamin C. It can also increase the absorption of other vitamins and minerals like vitamin K. Vitamin E is found in avocado, dark green vegetables, papayas, nuts and seeds and wheat germ.
- Vitamin K, especially vitamin K1 and K2 are essential for bone and heart health. They are essential for blood clotting which helps prevent postmenopausal bleeding. Vitamin K’s nickname is “vitamin kale”, because it’s found in many dark leafy greens and even in dark green vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts and asparagus.
- Calcium comes as no surprise because as we age, our bones weaken which increases fractures. Decreasing estrogen during menopause further increases this risk. Leafy green veggies and fatty fish such as sardines and salmon are rich in calcium!
- Potassium isn’t just food for the heart, it’s also food for the adrenal glands and kidneys! Because of potassium, we can cope with stress better and filter toxins. Potassium also works closely with magnesium to build hormones. Aside from dark veggies, cantaloupe, dried prunes, mushroom and cucumber are rich in potassium.
- Magnesium is one of the most highly celebrated minerals for hormone balance! This mineral helps produce more estrogen, progesterone and serotonin. It helps the body relax, prevent heart palpitations and relieve sleep problems. Dark chocolate, avocados, nuts and seeds, legumes, leafy greens and fatty fish are all rich in magnesium!
- Selenium is a strong antioxidant that protects cells from damage against free radicals. Selenium also strengthens our immune system and contributes to the maintenance of thyroid health. Brazil nuts, sardines, oysters, clams, halibut, shrimp, salmon and crab are rich in selenium!
- Zinc is an essential component in enzymes which are responsible for making protein and hormones. Zinc works closely with magnesium to produce different hormones. Shellfish, nuts, seeds and legumes all have high zinc content.
There are vitamin and mineral combinations that do wonder during menopause! Take vitamin D3 and vitamin K2 for example, they work like a dynamic duo. Vitamin D3 helps our body absorb calcium while vitamin K directs where calcium will go into our body. Together, they help strengthen our bones and muscles. Calcium and vitamin D also work in the same way.
Vitamin D3 and vitamin K2 can also keep our heart healthy, boost metabolism and stimulates the production of our sex hormones. Listen to Dr. Eric Berg as he explains how Vitamin D3 and K2 work together [4:00]:
How Much Vitamins and Minerals Can I Take?
Dietary nutrients have less potent effects, and our gut absorbs them faster. Our body also discards any excess nutrients.
However, this is different for nutritional supplements. They are already formulated, which means they have higher vitamin and mineral concentrations. For example, vitamins A, E and K and minerals, such as iron and magnesium, can be toxic when taken in large amounts.
The key is to know the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) and upper tolerable limit (UL) for each vitamin or mineral. RDA is the amount of vitamins and minerals we need daily to function well. UL is the maximum vitamins and minerals we can take without having serious side effects.
WebMD has a good table of reference for this, go check it out!
When taking new supplements, be sure to try one supplement at a time. This is to evaluate and know how you’re feeling.
Avoid buying the cheapest supplements. They might have low concentrations of nutrients and are not effective. Check the labels and buy from trusted, good brands!
If you’re already healthy, do you really need to take supplements? Watch Dr. Berg explain this in his video [6:52]:
Check out all Dr. Berg’s products on Amazon here.
A Friendly Reminder!
For maximum vitamin and mineral absorption, we need to keep our gut healthy! The gut digests food and absorbs nutrients, making it a vital organ as we go through menopause.
Make sure to boost its function by eating plant-based, whole foods! Get more fiber, probiotics and prebiotics rich foods in your diet. Slow down, reduce stress and exercise every day to keep your gut moving!
Get more tips to keep your gut grinding by checking out our article about healing the gut!
The Types of Vitamins: Water-Soluble and Fat-Soluble Vitamins
1. Water-soluble vitamins
These types of vitamins are found in watery portions of our food. Water-soluble vitamins easily get dissolved in our body where they mix and circulate with our blood.
The kidneys regulate water-soluble vitamins all the time so it’s hard for the body to store them. Experts say vitamin B12 is an exception to this rule because it can be stored in our liver for many years. Folic acid and vitamin C may also be stored in our body for days. There are 9 water-soluble vitamins:
- Vitamin B1/Thiamine
- Vitamin B2/Riboflavin
- Vitamin B3/Niacin
- Vitamin B5/Pantothenic Acid
- Vitamin B6/Pyridoxine
- Vitamin B7/Biotin
- Vitamin B9/Folic Acid
- Vitamin B12/Cobalamin
- Vitamin C/Ascorbic Acid
2. Fat-soluble vitamins
This type of vitamins is broken down into fats and stored in our fat tissues. Unlike water-soluble vitamins, it’s hard to flush out fat-soluble vitamins. Since they stay longer in our body, they have long-term effects.
Fat-soluble vitamins don’t go together with our blood. Instead, they travel through our lymphatic system and gut lining. There are 4 fat-soluble vitamins:
- Vitamin A/Retinol
- Vitamin D/Cholecalciferol
- Vitamin E/Tocopherol
- Vitamin K/Phylloquinone
A friendly reminder, because fat-soluble vitamins remain in our body, toxicity is possible. But this is more common when we take supplements, because it’s rare to get too much fat-soluble vitamins from food alone.
Types of Minerals: Macro Minerals and Trace Minerals
1. Macro Minerals
Macro minerals or major minerals are those that are needed by our body in large amounts. Nutritionists say we need more than 250 milligrams of macro minerals per day. The different kinds of macro minerals include:
2. Trace Minerals
Trace minerals, also known as micro minerals, are equally important as our macro minerals. However, trace minerals are required in smaller amounts by our body. We need less than 20 mg per day of trace minerals.
Food is medicine, this is what Hippocrates, the Father of Western Medicine, said 2,500 years ago! He was so right!
For me, eating a wide variety of plant-based, whole and organic foods is still the best way to get all the nutrients that my body needs. Many say that Mediterranean food is the best way to live healthy – seafood, fats and oils are the way to go!
However, if you follow a vegetarian or a vegan diet, it might be wise to consider supplementation. Vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium and zinc are common deficiencies in these types of diet.
Want to get a close look at other nutrients?
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Got more questions about menopause?
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