What is the menopause, what are the symptoms & how can certain vitamins & supplements help?


What is menopause?


Menopause is a natural process that happens in women’s bodies, usually between the ages of 45 and 55. It’s marked by the reduction of oestrogen in the body, which is a hormone that plays an important role in the menstrual cycle.


When a woman goes through menopause, this reduction in oestrogen will result in fewer and fewer periods. This change can happen over the space of a few months, or a few years.


Menopause also brings about other changes in the body. The effects of menopause can sometimes be unpleasant or uncomfortable, but there are various things you can do to help manage these symptoms.


What are the symptoms of menopause?


Symptoms of menopause can include mood changes such as lower mood and anxiety. A healthy diet and regular exercise can help to manage these feelings. The best way to ensure a healthy and balanced diet is by eating a variety of foods, including plenty of fruits and vegetables.


It's important to find exercise that you enjoy, whether it's hiking, swimming, or group fitness classes – there's bound to be something to suit you.


If you're finding that low mood or anxiety is affecting your everyday life, speak to your GP, as various treatments are available. This can include taking medicines, but also involves a variety of other options.


Osteoporosis & menopause


Weak bones, also known as osteoporosis, are another effect of the lower levels of oestrogen in women’s bodies during menopause. Vitamins and minerals play a key role in maintaining strong bones. All bones require plenty of calcium and vitamin D in order to stay healthy.


The best way to get a healthy amount of calcium is through a varied and balanced diet. It can be difficult to get enough vitamin D in the darker months, as we naturally produce it when our skin is exposed to sunlight, and it can only be found in low amounts in food. 


The government recommends that all adults should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D, especially in the autumn and winter months. Your pharmacist can advise you about the most suitable vitamin D supplement for you, but if you're considering supplementing calcium you should discuss it with your doctor.


Calcium


Calcium is a mineral that plays a vital role in maintaining healthy bones. Calcium can be found in:

• Green leafy vegetables

• Soy products
• Cheese
• Yoghurt
• Milk


Calcium is also found in low-fat dairy products, as well as full-fat ones. The recommended daily dose of calcium for adult women is 700 milligrams of calcium a day. However, taking over 1,500 milligrams of calcium a day can result in stomach pain or diarrhoea. If you're concerned you might not be getting enough calcium from your diet and would like to consider a calcium supplement, speak to your doctor for advice.


Vitamin D


It's difficult for the body to get enough vitamin D from diet alone, even for people who aren't going through menopause.


It's recommended that we all take vitamin D supplements during the autumn and winter months, as in the summer your body naturally makes vitamin D from being exposed to sunlight. Speak to your pharmacist for more advice on vitamin D supplements.


Herbal remedies


Some people choose to take herbal remedies to help treat the symptoms of menopause. If you're considering this, be aware that they can interact with other medicines you're taking. You can discuss whether they're suitable for you with your GP or pharmacist.


If you’re thinking about using herbal remedies, it's also worth noting that any claims they make are based on traditional use. Look out for the THR (Traditional Herbal Registration) certification mark on the packaging, showing that they've met certain quality and safety standards.

Next steps


• If you're struggling with the symptoms of menopause, discuss treatment options with your GP

• Your pharmacist will be able to advise you on lifestyle changes and self-care tips that may help to control your symptoms


If you’re going through the menopause and want to get treatment discreetly and conveniently at a time to suit you, take a look at our Menopause & HRT Treatment Service.*

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