Menopause, a natural phase in every woman's life, brings about significant hormonal changes that can affect physical and emotional well-being. You're probably already aware that this transition, while entirely normal and expected, can throw a wrench in many aspects of a woman's mindset in addition to how her body feels and functions (hello, hot flashes, mood swings, and sleep disturbances). But did you know that with menopause, the body's needs for various nutrients also evolve?
For example, menopausal women require specific nutrients—such as vitamin D, magnesium, and antioxidants — to aid in digestion, sleep, and bone health, making a healthy diet and lifestyle crucial. And, while not “essential” nutrients, an array of herbs and adaptogens that have been used for centuries can also support women's hormonal health.
Here's where menopausal supplements come into play: they offer nutritional support that can help relieve symptoms and maintain vitality.
The best menopausal supplements support these key areas:
- Hormonal balance to optimize the estrogen fluctuations as you transition into menopause and support the menopausal symptoms that accompany the drop in estrogen once you're postmenopausal.
- Bone health support to meet the changing needs that accompany estrogen changes in the body.
- Heart health support to ensure blood pressure and lipid management, as well as offering antioxidant protection.
- Support mood and cognitive function to help with anxiety, depression, brain fog, memory concerns, and other changes that are common menopause symptoms.
- Promote sleep quality to ensure that sleep is restorative and supportive of brain and hormone needs.
- Weight management, if necessary, to optimize muscle mass, minimize bone loss, and support cardio-metabolic health.
- Skin health to support the changing collagen production and drop in hormone stimulation that can lead to thinning skin and alterations in the skin microbiome.
- Digestive and microbiome support to ensure healthy digestion and protect against the decline in microbial health that occurs following menopause.
Whether you're a woman in menopause who needs help sleeping better, dealing with stress, or fighting stubborn weight gain, in this article, we'll explore the best supplements for menopause and delve into the science behind why these are crucial during this stage of life.
Why Take Menopausal Supplements?
Menopause typically occurs in a woman's mid-40s or early 50s, marking the end of her menstrual cycle. This phase is characterized by a decline in sex hormone production, including estrogen and progesterone, which is responsible for most of the notorious symptoms of menopause— such as hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and vaginal dryness, for example. These symptoms, while most closely associated with menopause, begin for most women as part of their menopausal transition known as perimenopause.
Certain supplements can help to alleviate menopause symptoms and enhance overall health during this period by contributing to hormonal balance, filling in gaps in nutrient needs in a woman's diet, supporting mood stabilization and cognitive functions, and much more.
Here's more about the main reasons that it can be helpful to take supplements leading up to, during, and after menopause.
- Hormonal balance support: One of the most significant changes that take place during menopause is the fluctuation and eventual decrease in estrogen levels, a main culprit behind various menopause symptoms. Certain supplements, such as those containing phytoestrogens that are naturally found in plants (including black cohosh and red clover) can mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. Supplementing with the right phytoestrogens, which have estrogen-like effects, helps to restore a sense of balance and can reduce low-estrogen-related side effects such as vaginal dryness, low libido, and propensity to gain weight.
- Bone health: The menopausal decline in estrogen also accelerates bone loss, increasing the risk of bone fractures and osteoporosis. Calcium and vitamin D are crucial for bone health in menopausal and postmenopausal women for this reason. Calcium aids in building and maintaining strong bones, while vitamin D may improve calcium absorption. Vitamin K2 also plays a role in bone metabolism. Supplements containing all of these nutrients, in addition to dietary calcium, are ideal for helping to maintain bone density as a woman ages. Regular exercise, including weighted exercises and strength training, offer additional support in maintaining bone health.
- Heart health: Postmenopausal women face a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, partly due to declining estrogen, which diminishes the protective effects of this hormone on heart health. Certain antioxidants, healthy fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins can help to support normal blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, making supplements such as multivitamins or omega-3s valuable additions to a menopausal woman's regimen.
- Mood and cognitive function: Menopause can influence a woman's mood and cognitive function. Many women report feeling more irritable or forgetful as common menopause symptoms. Fluctuating hormone levels may also lead to increased symptoms of depression and anxiety in menopause. B vitamins, particularly B6, B12, and folate, play a role in neurotransmitter production, which can influence a woman's mood and energy. Additionally, probiotics support the gut-brain axis and have been linked to enhanced support for mental health. Of course, a healthy diet is key for supporting mental health, including during menopause, as it's been shown to help manage anxiety.
- Sleep quality: Many menopausal women struggle with sleep, whether due to night sweats, insomnia, or hormonal changes affecting sleep patterns. Magnesium, often found in menopause supplements, can have a calming effect on the nervous system, promoting relaxation and better sleep quality. Herbal supplements like ashwagandha or valerian root also aid in improving sleep by fighting the effects of stress.
- Weight management: Weight gain is common during menopause, partly due to hormonal changes affecting one's metabolism and fat distribution. Supplements, including adaptogenic herbs, which support the nervous system and help keep “stress hormones” (such as cortisol) in check, can be beneficial as part of a weight management strategy.
- Skin health: Estrogen plays a role in maintaining skin elasticity and moisture, so as estrogen levels drop, many women notice their skin becomes drier and less elastic (similarly, vaginal dryness is a common complaint). Collagen supplements can help improve skin hydration and elasticity, while omega-3s and antioxidants like vitamins C and E can help protect the skin from damage and possibly slow the appearance of aging. Menopause hair loss is also a common concern many women face, which you'll find discussed here.
- Gut health: Digestive and microbiome support to ensure healthy digestion and protect against the decline in microbial health that occurs following menopause. As estrogen levels decline the organisms that inhabit the intestines can shift towards a state of dysbiosis and even decrease in number. Read more about the gut-menopause connection here. In addition to supporting hormones during this crucial transition, providing prebiotic and women specific probiotics can help support digestion.
The Science Behind Menopausal Supplements
What makes a product a good supplement for menopause? One key factor that ensures a superior quality product is third party testing, which is where the ingredients are screened to ensure what is on the label is in the capsule. In addition, each menopausal supplement has its own unique mechanisms of action and benefits.
Phytoestrogens and Isoflavones
For instance, phytoestrogens and isoflavones (which are related and found in over 300 plants) mimic the effects of natural estrogen, helping to fill the gap caused by declining estrogen levels. Products containing these two types of compounds have become popular as alternatives to hormone replacement therapy due to their ability to potentially benefit overall hormonal health. While they can help with menopause symptom relief, they do not replace the benefits that HRT provides for brain, heart, and bone health. Always discuss with your doctor what is best for your health.
Adaptogens and herbs aid in modulating the body's stress response, helping to dampen feelings of anxiousness that can result from fluctuating hormones. Studies show that when certain herbs for menopause are used together, including chaste tree berry and black cohosh, they can help naturally reduce menopausal symptoms such as flushing, sweating, sleep disturbances, and anxiety.
Probiotics play a role in maintaining gut health, which is directly linked to immune function and even hormone regulation. According to recent research, when menopausal women consume probiotics, they can benefit from increased intestinal calcium absorption (thus maintaining healthy bone density), as well as potentially reduced risk for breast cancer, certain inflammatory conditions, and cardiometabolic risk factors.
Mineral and Calcium Supplements
A well-formulated multivitamin ensures that essential micronutrients are being consumed on a consistent basis, potentially reducing the risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies and supporting various bodily functions impacted by menopause.
Antioxidants such as resveratrol, found in grapes and berries, have been shown to improve overall quality of life in menopausal women and may help manage discomforts due to conditions such as arthritis. It may also improve circulation in the brain leading to improved cognition.
Vitamin D Supplements
Lastly, the combination of vitamin D3 and K2 addresses the increased risk of poor bone density and related issues, including osteoporosis, that can occur during menopause, ensuring that bones remain strong and healthy.
Best Supplements for Menopause
Now that you know why and how menopausal supplements can be helpful, let's discuss the best types to consider adding to your routine. The Dr. Brighten Essentials line is all third party tested, so you know you can trust the ingredients, science backed, and doctor formulated. You can use this as a guide for what to look for when making your supplement decisions.
This supplement is a cornerstone for managing menopausal symptoms because it contains a blend of vitamins, minerals, and natural ingredients designed to support hormonal equilibrium.
Balance includes herbs like chaste tree berry that help to mimic estrogen's beneficial effects, potentially easing hot flashes and night sweats.
Additionally, Balance incorporates resveratrol to provide optimal antioxidant defenses. The inclusion of vitamins B6, B12, and folate further supports healthy hormone production, while magnesium and calcium target bone strength, heart health, sleep quality, and general hormonal balance.
Calcium D-glucarate, sulforaphane with myrosinase, and DIM provide a trifecta to support optimal estrogen metabolism. The combination of these three ingredients aids the liver in producing the most beneficial estrogen metabolites making it an ideal formulation for those transitioned into menopause and those who choose hormone therapy.
The adrenal glands play a crucial role during menopause, particularly in producing and regulating certain hormones that balance energy levels, mood, focus, and libido.
Adrenal Support can boost your ability to cope with stress as it contains adaptogens like ashwagandha, holy basil, and rhodiola, all of which support a balanced mood and healthy levels of stress hormones such as cortisol.
In combination with B vitamins and vitamin C, adaptogenic herbs support hypothalamic and pituitary function (the HPA axis) and catecholamine production (dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine), while also assisting in the maintenance of stable moods and in mental performance.
Focusing on supporting gut health is pivotal during menopause, considering that many women in this phase deal with digestive issues such as bloating and discomfort.
Featuring a combination of probiotics, prebiotics, and antioxidants, my Women's Probiotic formula is designed to support healthy hormones, a healthy gut microbiome and estrobolome, as well as a balanced vaginal microbiome.
By assisting in digestive health, a daily probiotic supplement may assist in nutrient absorption, help reduce occasional GI symptoms, and could even positively influence moods and immune defenses by supporting the gut-brain axis.
This comprehensive multivitamin is tailored to the unique nutritional needs of menopausal women. It includes a blend of vitamins and minerals at optimal levels to support bone health, cardiovascular health, and energy metabolism.
To help maximize the absorption and utilization of nutrients, this formula includes bioavailable minerals that are easiest for the body to digest and put to work.
In addition to the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs, this unique women's multi features various antioxidants such as vitamin E, carotenoids, and fruit bioflavonoids to offer cellular protection and a healthy response to oxidative stress.
5. Adrenal Calm
Designed to promote relaxation and healthy sleep patterns, Adrenal Calm contains ingredients like magnesium, B vitamins, phosphatidylserine, and L-theanine, which can help ease the mind and reduce the stress that often accompanies menopause.
Getting good sleep is key to feeling your best! Therefore, this is one to definitely include in your routine if you struggle with a racing mind overnight, tossing, turning, and waking up feeling “wired but tired.”
Bone health is a significant concern during menopause, which is why vitamin D3 and vitamin K2 are among the best vitamins for menopausal women. These two vitamins work synergistically to support bone density as well as cardiovascular health. D3 aids in calcium absorption, while K2 helps direct calcium to the bones where it's needed most.
In addition, vitamin D3 is an important ally in hormone health and immune system regulation.
Including fatty fish in the diet is an excellent way to increase your omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. If you're looking for dietary support to help you on your hormone journey, grab this free recipe guide I've created.
Navigating menopause doesn't have to be a daunting journey. When armed with the right menopausal supplements, you can gracefully manage menopause and continue to feel like yourself. Remember, it's always wise to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen; this way, you ensure the menopausal supplements you're using are safe to use together (or in combination with other medications you're taking) and align with your unique needs.
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