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Essential Nutrients for the Battle of the Middle Ground

Mom told you, or maybe she didn’t, that you have to fight with every bit of non-logical being when it comes time to fight off the Menopause Dragon. As we age, our body changes. The nutrients required by a thirty-five year old woman are not the same nutrients required by a fifty-five year old woman. Perimenopausal and menopausal women require some specific nutrients to maintain optimum health.

Even if a woman eats a wide variety of healthy foods during this time, she may still be missing some essential nutrients. The reason is because her body has shifted and the nutrients she believes she needs may not address the symptoms of perimenopause or menopause. Let’s take a look at some symptoms and see how two important nutrients – calcium and vitamin D – work in tandem to ease those symptoms.

Calcium

A lack of adequate calcium in the body can lead to reduced bone density. When your body doesn’t get enough calcium, it will take the calcium from the bones in your body. This can lead to bone loss and, eventually, osteoporosis.

Other problems, such as restlessness, anxiety, and disturbed sleep patterns may also be the result of a calcium deficiency. Begin building your calcium reserves by eating several of these foods daily:

Sweet Potatoes

Collard Greens

Non-gmo Cold-washed Soy

Wild Caught Salmon or Sardines

Spinach

Broccoli

Of course, along with adding calcium rich foods to your diet, taking a whole foods capsule rich in calcium is an excellent way to ensure you are getting the right amount by bridging that gap. The recommended amount of calcium for perimenopausal and menopausal women until the age of 55 is 1200 mg per day. After 55, it is often recommended to boost the dosage to 1500 mg per day. Our body tends to absorb less calcium as we age. The extra calcium can ease the symptoms of menopause and protect against bone loss.

Vitamin D

It’s important to know that calcium cannot be absorbed by the body without vitamin D. It doesn’t matter how much calcium you take, if you don’t pair it with enough vitamin D, the calcium will not be absorbed properly. I joke that here in the Pacific Northwest we get overwhelmed after the first sunny day, with too much Vitamin D. However that’s just a joke and most of us are deficient. Along with helping to absorb calcium to maintain bone health, vitamin D can also combat mood swings, even fighting off depression. Vitamin D is also known to help with memory and overall cognitive performance.

One of the easiest, and best, ways to get enough vitamin D is to go outside. The sun works with your body to produce vitamin D through the skin. Just exposing your skin to sunlight 15 minutes a day will provide your body with a healthy dose of vitamin D. Have chicken skin? It could mean your a D-deficient. This is a case where more is not better. Once you have your 15 minutes, go ahead and lather on the sunscreen to protect your skin from overexposure. You have had all the sunlight you need.

If you are unable to get outside daily, add extra servings of D rich foods to your diet. If, however, these sources of vitamin D are not readily available to you on a routine basis, then adding a supplement is a good idea. The recommended daily allowance of vitamin D is 1000 mg per day, although talk to your doctor. I take far higher amounts throughout the year here in the Seattle area.

Your doctor or other health professional will be your best resource if you have any doubts or questions about how much calcium and vitamin D you need to maintain optimum health and fight the symptoms of perimenopause or menopause. Make a list of all the calcium rich and vitamin D rich foods you eat each day, then sit down and discuss your lifestyle and eating habits with your doctor or health professional. Adding a supplement may be recommended, and it may be just the answer you were looking for to relieve those symptoms and enjoy better health.