Menopause marks the end of a woman’s menstrual cycle and is defined as occurring 12 months after the last menstrual period. The age at which a woman becomes menopausal varies. According to the North American Menopause Society, premature menopause is that which occurs before age 40 years, and early menopause refers to menopause that occurs at or before age 45 years, whilst the median age of natural menopause is 51 years (1).
Symptoms and Changes
All women have different pre and post menopausal experiences. Many women report similar symptoms prior to menopause (perimenopause) and post menopause , such as difficulty sleeping, hot flashes and a list of other discomforting symptoms, while others only experience irregular menstruation patterns during perimenopause. After menopause, women have significantly lower levels of the hormone estrogen and no longer menstruate, marking the end of fertility (2)(3).
‘Why should I use this supplement before hitting menopause?’
During the early years of life, the body is very good at storing calcium in the bones. Peak bone mass (maximum bone density) is achieved once a person reaches their early 20’s. Once this peak bone strength has been reached, a woman’s bones gradually lose strength. When there is inadequate intake of calcium through dietary and supplementary means, the body uses the calcium stored in the bones, resulting in easily fractured and fragile bones. It is estimated that 1.2 million Australians have osteoporosis and a further 6.3 million are at risk of osteopenia (low bone mineral density) (4)(5). A calcium rich diet and regular weight bearing physical activity in the first 20 years of life is essential in reducing your risk of osteoporosis later in life (6). Food sources of calcium include:
- Dairy products (milk, cheese, yoghurt)
- Fortified soy products (soy milk, rice milk)
- Nuts and seeds
- Green leafy vegetables
Calcium however, requires Vitamin D in order to be absorbed and used by the body efficiently. There are minimal amounts of Vitamin D in certain foods such as margarine, fish and eggs.
Although, consumption of dietary sources of Vitamin D alone, are not enough. The body makes Vitamin D when the skin is exposed to the sun. Osteoporosis Australia recommends 6 to 8 minutes of sun exposure per day (between 10am-12pm) (5).
Research tells us that several years prior to menopause, women experience ‘perimenopause’ (also known as the menopause transition) (7). During this time, a woman’s body reduces the amount of estrogen normally produced. For this reason, Wealthy Health’s ‘Relief of Menopausal Symptoms’ has included soybean (glycine max) extract in its complex. This ingredient carries a number of plant estrogens (isoflavones) that work in the body like a weak form of estrogen, compensating for the reduction of hormone levels in the body during this time (8).
Studies have also explored the relationship between lower rates of breast cancer in some Asian countries where foods from soy origin (tofu, tempeh and soy milk) are commonly consumed. In some large studies, there is supporting evidence that a diet rich in soy foods may reduce the risk of breast cancer and help relieve symptoms of menopause (9).
Wealthy Health’s ‘Relief of Menopausal Symptoms’ has been packed full with calcium citrate (the most absorbable form of calcium), magnesium oxide (involved in treating menstrual pain and relaxing the nervous system), phyto-estrogens and other minerals fulfilling the nutritional needs of women at each life-stage assisting general wellbeing before, during and after menopause. Yes, supplements can’t replace a healthy diet, but they can compensate for your deficiencies, acting as your nutritional insurance.
- North American Menopause Society. Menopause Practice: A Clinician's Guide. 3rd ed. Cleveland, OH: North American Menopause Society; 2007.
- The North American Menopause Society. (2015). Menopause FAQs: Understanding the Symptoms. Available: http://www.menopause.org/for-women/expert-answers-to-frequently-asked-questions-about-menopause/menopause-faqs-understanding-the-symptoms. Accessed 1st Jan 2015.
- Col NF, Guthrie JR, Politi M et al., Menopause 2009, 16(3):453-7)
- Dairy Australia . (2014). Building Strong Bones. Available: http://www.dairy.edu.au/discoverdairy/Teachers/Unbeatable-Bones-Module/Building-Bones.aspx. Accessed 8th Jan 2015.
- Nutrition Australia . (2012). Osteoporosis. Available: http://www.nutritionaustralia.org/national/resource/osteoporosis. Last accessed 7th Jan 2015.
- Howe TE, Shea B, Dawson LJ, et al. Exercise for preventing and treating osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2011; (7): CD000333.
- The Cleveland Clinic Foundation . (2013). Menopause. Available: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases_conditions/hic-what-is-perimenopause-menopause-postmenopause. Accessed 7th Jan 2015.
- Cancer Council NSW. (2013). Soy foods, phyto-oestrogens and cancer. Available: http://www.cancercouncil.com.au/22342/cancer-information/cancer-risk-and-prevention/healthy-weight-diet-and-exercise/soy-foods/. Accessed 7th Jan 2015.
- Ismail Y, Ismail AA, Ismail AA. The underestimated problem of using serum magnesium measurements to exclude magnesium deficiency in adults; a health warning is needed for “normal” results. Clin Chem Lab Med. 2010;48(3):323-327.