Menopause ‘Brain Fog’ Is A Real Thing, Study Says

Ever have days when you can’t remember things? Here’s why.

No, you aren’t going crazy. For women experiencing menopause, those memory lapses and times where you just can’t focus or concentrate, simply come with the menopausal territory, a new Harvard study has found. There is really something going on in the brain.

Previous studies found that up to 60 percent of women report memory issues as they go through menopause. This new report, published in the Journal for Neuroscience, sheds some light on what is happening in the brain during those hormonal shifts.

The research team studied 200 men and women ― women were age 45 to 55 ― using functional MRI to look at changes in the brain’s memory circuitry. Participants were shown two words on a screen and asked to form a sentence using them, then were later tested on their memory of the words. They also collected information on the female participants’ menopausal status and measured steroid hormone levels, including 17β-estradiol, a sex steroid hormone that declines during menopause.

The researchers found that when estradiol levels were lower, more pronounced changes in the hippocampus — one of the primary regions of the brain implicated in learning and memory — were seen, and participants with lower levels of the hormone performed worse on the memory task.

So the next time you misplace your car keys …. (sorry but our brain just froze. Can we get back to you later to finish that sentence?)


Menopause reversal restores periods and produces fertile eggs

Women who have already passed through the menopause may be able to have children following a blood treatment usually used to heal wounds

Mother holding baby

MENOPAUSE need not be the end of fertility. A team claims to have found a way to rejuvenate post-menopausal ovaries, enabling them to release fertile eggs, New Scientist can reveal.

The team says its technique has restarted periods in menopausal women, including one who had not menstruated in five years. If the results hold up to wider scrutiny, the technique may boost declining fertility in older women, allow women with early menopause to get pregnant, and help stave off the detrimental health effects of menopause.

“It offers a window of hope that menopausal women will be able to get pregnant using their own genetic material,” says Konstantinos Sfakianoudis, a gynaecologist at the Greek fertility clinic Genesis Athens.

“It is potentially quite exciting,” says Roger Sturmey at Hull York Medical School in the UK. “But it also opens up ethical questions over what the upper age limit of mothers should be.”

Women are thought to be born with all their eggs. Between puberty and the menopause, this number steadily dwindles, with fertility thought to peak in the early 20s. Around the age of 50, which is when menopause normally occurs, the ovaries stop releasing eggs – but most women are already largely infertile by this point, as ovulation becomes more infrequent in the run-up. The menopause comes all-too-soon for many women, says Sfakianoudis.

The age of motherhood is creeping up, and more women are having children in their 40s than ever before. But as more women delay pregnancy, many find themselves struggling to get pregnant. Women who hope to conceive later in life are increasingly turning to IVF and egg freezing, but neither are a reliable back-up option.

The menopause also comes early – before the age of 40 – for around 1 per cent of women, either because of a medical condition or certain cancer treatments, for example.

“It offers hope that menopausal women will be able to get pregnant using their own genetic material“

To turn back the fertility clock for women who have experienced early menopause, Sfakianoudis and his colleagues have turned to a blood treatment that is used to help wounds heal faster.

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is made by centrifuging a sample of a person’s blood to isolate growth factors – molecules that trigger the growth of tissue and blood vessels. It is widely used to speed the repair of damaged bones and muscles, although its effectiveness is unclear. The treatment may work by stimulating tissue regeneration.

Sfakianoudis’s team has found that PRP also seems to rejuvenate older ovaries, and presented some of their results at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology annual meeting in Helsinki, Finland, this month. When they injected PRP into the ovaries of menopausal women, they say it restarted their menstrual cycles, and enabled them to collect and fertilise the eggs that were released.

“I had a patient whose menopause had established five years ago, at the age of 40,” says Sfakianoudis. Six months after the team injected PRP into her ovaries, she experienced her first period since menopause.

Sfakianoudis’s team has since been able to collect three eggs from this woman. The researchers say they have successfully fertilised two using her husband’s sperm. These embryos are now on ice – the team is waiting until there are at least three before implanting some in her uterus.

Older mothers

The team isn’t sure how this technique works, but it may be that the PRP stimulates stem cells. Some research suggests a small number of stem cells continue making new eggs throughout a woman’s life, but we don’t know much about these yet. It’s possible that growth factors encourage such stem cells to regenerate tissue and produce ovulation hormones. “It’s biologically plausible,” says Sturmey.

Fertilised eggs

Sfakianoudis’s team says it has given PRP in this way to around 30 women between the ages of 46 and 49, all of whom want to have children. The researchers say they have managed to isolate and fertilise eggs from most of them.

“It seems to work in about two-thirds of cases,” says Sfakianoudis. “We see changes in biochemical patterns, a restoration of menses, and egg recruitment and fertilisation.” His team has yet to implant any embryos in post-menopausal women, but hopes to do so in the coming months.

PRP has already been helpful for pregnancy in another group of women, says Sfakianoudis. Around 10 per cent of women who seek fertility treatment at his clinic have a uterus that embryos find difficult to attach to – whether due to cysts, scarring from miscarriages or having a thin uterine lining. “They are the most difficult to treat,” says Sfakianoudis.

But after injecting PRP into the uteruses of six women who had had multiple miscarriages and failed IVF attempts, three became pregnant through IVF. “They are now in their second trimester,” says Sfakianoudis.

Fertility aside, the technique could also be desirable for women who aren’t trying to conceive. The hormonal changes that trigger menopause can also make the heart, skin and bones more vulnerable to ageing and disease, while hot flushes can be very unpleasant. Many women are reluctant to take hormone replacement therapy to reduce these because of its link with breast cancer. Rejuvenating the ovaries with PRP could provide an alternative way to boost the supply of youthful hormones, delaying menopause symptoms.

Ovarian follicle
More eggs, please

Steve Gschmeissner/SPL

However, Sfakianoudis’s team hasn’t yet published any of its findings. “We need larger studies before we can know for sure how effective the treatment is,” says Sfakianoudis.

“One woman had been in menopause for 5 years. Six months after treatment, she had a period“

Some have raised concerns about the safety and efficacy of the procedure, saying the team should have tested the approach in animals first. “This experiment would not have been allowed to take place in the UK,” says Sturmey. “The researchers need to do some more work to make sure that the resulting eggs are OK,” says Adam Balen at the British Fertility Society.

To know if the technique really does improve fertility, the team will also need to carry out randomised trials, in which a control group isn’t given PRP.

Virginia Bolton, an embryologist at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London, is also sceptical. “It is dangerous to get excited about something before you have sufficient evidence it works,” she says. New techniques often find their way into the fertility clinic without strong evidence, thanks to huge demand from people who are often willing to spend their life savings to have a child, she says.

If the technique does hold up under further investigation, it could raise ethical questions over the upper age limits of pregnancy – and whether there should be any. “I lay awake last night turning this over in my mind,” says Sturmey. “Where would the line be drawn?”

Health issues like gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia and miscarriage are all more common in older women. “It would require a big debate,” says Sturmey.


Sperm home test kit

How are the little swimmers doing? Low sperm counts or poor sperm quality are behind around a third of cases of couples who can’t conceive. A visit to a clinic for a test can be awkward, but a smartphone-based system lets men determine whether that’s necessary by checking their fertility at home.

Men often find it embarrassing to give a semen sample at a clinic, says Yoshitomo Kobori at the Dokkyo Medical University Koshigaya Hospital in Japan. So Kobori devised an alternative. “I thought a smartphone microscope could be an easy way to look at problems with male fertility,” he says.

Kobori and his colleagues came up with a lens less than a millimetre thick that can be slotted into a plastic “jacket”. Clipped on to the camera of a smartphone, it magnifies an image by 555 times – perfect for looking at sperm.

To do a home test, a man would apply a small amount of semen to a plastic sheet around five minutes after ejaculation and press it against the microscope.

Watch them swim

The phone’s camera can then take a 3-second video clip of the sperm. When viewed enlarged on a computer screen, it is easy for someone to count the total number of sperm and the number that are moving – key indicators of fertility.

Kobori says the system works as well as the software used in fertility clinics. When the team ran 50 samples through both systems, they got almost identical results. The work was presented at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology meeting in Helsinki this month.

The system can’t assess the ability of sperm to fertilise an egg. “This method is only the simple version of semen analysis,” says Kobori. But that could be enough for men to identify potential fertility problems, and decide whether to seek help from a doctor.


Exercise May Ease Hot Flashes, Provided It’s Vigorous


Hot flashes are a lamentable part of reaching middle age for many women. While drug treatments may provide relief, two new studies suggest that the right type of exercise might lessen both the frequency and discomfiting severity of hot flashes by changing how the body regulates its internal temperature.

As estrogen levels drop with the onset of menopause, many women become less adept, physiologically, at dealing with changes to internal and external temperatures. The result, famously, is the hot flash (also known as a hot flush), during which women can feel sudden, overwhelming heat and experience copious sweating, a problem that in some cases can linger for years.

Hormone replacement therapy can effectively combat hot flashes, and antidepressants may also help, though drug treatments have well-established side effects. Weight loss also may lessen hot flashes, but losing weight after menopause is difficult.

So researchers at Liverpool John Moores University in England and other institutions recently began to consider whether exercise might help.

Endurance exercise, after all, improves the body’s ability to regulate temperature, the scientists knew. Athletes, especially those in strenuous sports like distance running and cycling, start to sweat at a lower body temperature than out-of-shape people. Athletes’ blood vessels also carry more blood to the skin surface to release unwanted heat, even when they aren’t exercising.

If exercise had a similar effect on older, out-of-shape women’s internal thermostats, the scientists speculated, it might also lessen the number or the intensity of their hot flashes.

Previous studies examining exercise as a treatment for hot flashes had shown mixed results, the scientists knew. However, many of those experiments had been short term and involved walking or similarly light exercise, which might be too gentle to cause the physiological changes needed to reduce hot flashes.

So for the two new studies, one of which was published in the Journal of Physiology and the other in Menopause (using the same data to examine different aspects of exercise and hot flashes), the researchers decided to look at the effects of slightly more strenuous workouts.

They first recruited 21 menopausal women who did not currently exercise but did experience hot flashes. According to diaries each woman kept for a week at the start of the study, some women were having 100 or more of them each week.

The scientists also measured each woman’s general health, fitness, blood flow to the brain (which affects heat responses) and, most elaborately, ability to respond to heat stress. For that test, researchers fitted the women with suits that almost completely covered their bodies. The suits contained tubes that could be filled with water. By raising the temperature of the water, the scientists could induce hot flashes — which typically occur if an affected woman’s skin grows hot — and also track her body’s general ability to deal with heat stress.

Fourteen of the women then began an exercise program, while seven, who served as controls, did not. (This was a small pilot study, and the researchers allowed the women to choose whether to exercise or not.)

The sessions, all of them supervised by trainers, at first consisted of 30 minutes of moderate jogging or bicycling three times a week. Gradually, the workouts became longer and more intense, until by the end of four months the women were jogging or pedaling four or five times per week for 45 minutes at a pace that definitely caused them to pant and sweat.

They also, in the last of those 16 weeks, kept another diary of their hot flashes.

Then they returned to the lab to repeat the original tests.

The results showed that the exercisers, unsurprisingly, were considerably more aerobically fit now, while the control group’s fitness was unchanged.

More striking, the women who had exercised showed much better ability to regulate their body heat. When they wore the suit filled with warm water, they began to sweat a little earlier and more heavily than they had before, showing that their bodies could generally dissipate heat better.

But at the same time, during an actual hot flash induced by the hot suit, the exercisers perspired less and showed a lower rise in skin temperature than the control group. Their hot flashes were less intense than those of the women who had not worked out.

Probably best of all from the standpoint of the volunteers who had exercised, they turned out to have experienced far fewer hot flashes near the end of the experiment, according to their diaries, with the average frequency declining by more than 60 percent.

These findings strongly suggest that “improvements in fitness with a regular exercise program will have potential benefits on hot flushes,” said Helen Jones, a professor of exercise science at Liverpool John Moores University, who oversaw the new studies.

Precisely how exercise might change a women’s susceptibility to hot flashes is still not completely clear, although the researchers noted that the women who exercised developed better blood flow to the surface of their skin and to their brains during heat stress. That heightened blood flow most likely aided the operations of portions of the brain that regulate body temperature, Dr. Jones said.

The cautionary subtext of this study, though, is that to be effective against hot flashes, exercise probably needs to be sustained and somewhat strenuous, she said. “A leisurely walk for 30 minutes once a week is not going to have the required impact.”



After 15 Years Of Menopause, Mom Gives Birth!

When Allison Noyce was just 20 years old, she stopped getting her period regularly. Then, doctors gave her a devastating diagnosis — she had experienced early menopause. Noyce was told that she would never have children. About 15 years later, she went for a bike ride. She felt a sharp pain in her stomach. She had been feeling this pain for quite some time now, but after the ride, she knew something was wrong. Noyce felt like there was a lump in her tummy. She just knew it was cancer.

Noyce saw a doctor who believed the lump was a large cyst, but after a scan, the news was even more shocking. Doctors told she and her husband, Richard, that she was eight months pregnant. Because Noyce couldn’t have children, the couple never used contraceptives.

“We were overcome with emotion when the woman doing an ultrasound said I was eight months pregnant. Relief that it wasn’t cancer and sheer joy that we were having a baby,” Noyce told DailyMail.

A mere 12 days later, Noyce gave birth to Sophie, a healthy baby girl. The couple appeared on the talk show This Morning where little Sophie became a bit fussy. The parents did not care one bit. Clearly, they don’t take it for granted at all that they have the privilege of being parents, even when their baby girl throws a fit on TV!


How your mum’s early menopause can affect your fertility

A woman can predict how long she has left to conceive by checking how old her mother was at the menopause, according to researchers.

A study has found that the number of eggs a woman has left in her ovaries is lower if her mother had an early menopause.

Research: Scientists have claimed that research shows women's fertility may be affected if their mother had early menopause (picture posed by model)

With more women delaying motherhood to their late-30s and beyond, the chances of conceiving fall as the ovaries run down their stock of eggs.

In the UK, the average age of the menopause is 51, but hereditary  factors mean that the process can happen earlier in some women than in others.

Previous studies have found a link between the age at menopause among mothers and daughters.

But the latest research suggests scientists can provide a way of predicting the number of eggs left – the fertility window or ovarian reserve – in younger women.

Danish scientists looked at two physical markers of ovarian reserve and found they fell faster in those whose mothers had an early menopause.

They measured anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) levels and antral follicle count (AFC) in daughters and compared both with the mother’s age at menopause.

Both markers reduced at a faster rate in daughters of mothers who had the menopause early.

Study leader Dr Janne Bentzen, from Copenhagen University Hospital, said: ‘This is the first study to suggest that the age-related decline of AMH and AFC may differ between those whose mothers entered menopause before the age of 45 and those whose mothers entered menopause after the age of 55.’

The results are reported in the latest online edition of the journal Human Reproduction.

Fertility: The research may provide a guide into the window a woman has to conceive

Fertility: The research may provide a guide into the window a woman has to conceive

The study involved 527 women aged 20 to 40 working at Copenhagen University Hospital.

They were divided into three groups; those whose mothers had early menopause before the age of 45, daughters of mothers having normal menopause between the ages of 46 and 54, and daughters of women having a late menopause at 55 and older.

Dr Bentzen said a low ovarian reserve may have a long-term effect that will shorten a woman’s reproductive lifespan.

Dr Nick Panay, chairman of the British Menopause Society, said previous research had strongly suggested inherited genes played a part in determining how long women’s fertility lasted.

He said: ‘It’s a complex combination of genes and there’s a lot of international research going on.

‘One of the most important questions we can ask a woman seeking information about her ovarian reserve is at what age did your mother go through the menopause?

‘Tests are being developed which look increasingly promising, but these will only be a guide.

‘If a woman wants to have a baby and is in a position to start trying then it is better to do it earlier rather than later.



After 15 Years Of Menopause, Mom Gives Birth!

When Allison Noyce was just 20 years old, she stopped getting her period regularly. Then, doctors gave her a devastating diagnosis — she had experienced early menopause. Noyce was told that she would never have children. About 15 years later, she went for a bike ride. She felt a sharp pain in her stomach. She had been feeling this pain for quite some time now, but after the ride, she knew something was wrong. Noyce felt like there was a lump in her tummy. She just knew it was cancer.

Noyce saw a doctor who believed the lump was a large cyst, but after a scan, the news was even more shocking. Doctors told she and her husband, Richard, that she was eight months pregnant. Because Noyce couldn’t have children, the couple never used contraceptives.

“We were overcome with emotion when the woman doing an ultrasound said I was eight months pregnant. Relief that it wasn’t cancer and sheer joy that we were having a baby,” Noyce told DailyMail.

A mere 12 days later, Noyce gave birth to Sophie, a healthy baby girl. The couple appeared on the talk show This Morning where little Sophie became a bit fussy. The parents did not care one bit. Clearly, they don’t take it for granted at all that they have the privilege of being parents, even when their baby girl throws a fit on TV!

Image Credit: Facebook


Ultimate Foods To Reduce Your Menopause Symptoms-Best Life Insurance

he “M” word… terrorizing for some, a natural life-progression for others. And perhaps particularly on your mind if you’re a female approaching the tender age of 50. What am I referring to?

Why, Menopause, of course! Whether you’re starting to feel the first pangs of hot flashes or are simply interested in preparing yourself for a smooth transition, this article is for you.

Read on to find out more about the foods to favor and the ones to watch out for when aiming to optimize your diet for menopause.

Foods against menopause symptoms

Let’s Talk Hormones

Before we dive straight into the foods to have on hand and those to keep at an arm’s length, let’s first quickly recap what menopause entails. This will be helpful in understanding why the foods listed below are so important.

Menopause starts when a woman’s ovaries begin running out of eggs. As a reference point, this typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, but, since the total amount of eggs each woman is born with can vary, so can the age at which each reaches menopause.

Running out of eggs cause the ovaries to decrease their production of two important reproductive hormones; estrogen and progesterone. It’s this drop that causes most of the changes (and new challenges) associated with menopause, including hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain, bone loss, sleep disturbances and / or mood changes!

Hormone therapy is one way to reduce the symptoms and, while it can be effective, it also raises risks of medical conditions such as heart attacks, stroke and breast cancer, especially if you wait for several years beyond menopause to begin it. Another way to reduce symptoms is through a healthy diet, which, although always important, is particularly so during life-stage.

Certain foods will not only help provide relief of the less than eagerly awaited symptoms described above, but can also ensure your health remains in top-shape, so you can enjoy the many years to come.

Since not all women experience the same symptoms, this article is organized in sections. Read them all or simply scroll through the list below to find yours. Each section will give you some tips on which foods to favor and which to stay away from to get the best benefits. Happy reading!

Happy at menopause

Mood Swings

As some of you may have noticed, thanks to menopause, mood swings may not only seem worse, but also more difficult to handle. What’s more, many post-menopausal women also report increased feelings of depression and anxiety.

Luckily, several foods can help you deal with such these pesky negatives!

The first set all have one nutrient in common; tryptophan. This little amino acid plays an big role in the manufacturing of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects your mood, sleep and appetite. Getting your fill will likely result in a happier disposition as well as better sleep and perhaps even a slimmer waist. Tryptophan is easily found in foods such as turkey, seafood, spinach, cottage cheese, turnips, oats, legumes and pumpkin, sunflower or sesame seeds.

The second contain omega-3 fatty acids. Well-known for their positive effects on heart health, omega-3s may also positively impact levels of serotonin. To achieve an optimal intake, favor foods such as fatty fish, flaxseed, chia seeds, canola oil and nuts.

A third nutrient that may help ward off feelings of depression is none other than vitamin D. Although no research to date has effectively identified a low vitamin D intake as a cause of depression, research does point to a relationship between low levels of vitamin D and depression.

And, given vitamin D’s many positive effects (including those you’ll find listed in the bone health section), ensuring you consume sufficient amounts is, at the very least, unlikely to hurt!

Hot flashes

Hot Flashes

Annoying at the very least and full-fledged sleep-disturbing and cumbersome at the most; hot flashes are one symptom many post-menopausal women have to deal with!

To minimize their occurrence, try staying clear of high-fat, high-sugar diets, spicy foods, excessively hot drinks or caffeine, as each of these items can act as triggers.

As for foods to favor, you might want to consider adding soy products to your diet. Why? Research currently supposes that a high intake of soy isoflavones (which can be found in all soy products) are part of the reason why Japanese women experience much less hot flashes than Westerners.

The amount of isoflavones needed for relief seems to be about 50 mg, which can be easily provided by two servings of soy foods per day. Examples of one serving include 1/2 cup of tofu, tempeh, edamame, cooked soybeans or 1 cup of soy milk.

Wrinkled skin

Bad Skin

Although crow’s feet and laugh lines are a normal part of the aging process, the declining estrogen levels associated with menopause can accelerate said process, bringing on unwanted extras such as dry and scaly skin.

This might come as no surprise, but filling up on antioxidant-rich plant foods can help minimize the toll aging takes on your skin. That’s because the more antioxidants you consume, the stronger of an army you create when it comes to fighting off cell-aging oxidative damage.

Three particularly useful antioxidants are zinc and vitamins A & C.

– Vitamin C rich foods include bell-peppers, kale, kiwis, broccoli, berries and citrus fruit .
– The best sources of zinc include seafood, meat, seeds, beans and lentils.
– Vitamin A can be found in orange-colored vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash as well as in leafy greens.

Again, you might want to give boosting your soy isoflavone intake a try. A study conducted in middle-aged women found that those who consumed 40mg of isoflavones (about the amount in 1 1/2 servings of soy foods) every day, for 12 weeks, experienced improved skin elasticity and a decline in small wrinkles.

Finally, drinking up can help maintain the moisture of your skin, offsetting dryness. What’s more, getting your 8 glasses per day can also help decrease some of the bloating that sometimes occurs with hormonal changes. If you’re not a fan of bland water, you’ll be glad to read that soups, herbal teas and frozen-fruit or mint-flavored water are just as effective!

Menopause muscles

Weight Gain

Yet another popular complaint! Although most women may feel otherwise, menopause may not be to blame per-se…

But, while there’s still much debate surrounding the exact cause of menopausal weight gain, the fact remains that many post-menopausal women experience this annoying side-effect. To help keep the extra pounds from finding residence around your midsection, make sure to give the following 3 tips a try!

  • Make sure to boost your fibre intake. You can easily achieve this by increasing your intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Fibre expands in your stomach, which will keep you feeling fuller for longer, preventing hunger pangs (or excessive over-eating). A high-fibre diet might also slightly lower estrogen levels prior to menopause, helping make the transition a little smoother! Last, but not least, soluble fibre can also help lower cholesterol, protecting both your heart and brain!
  • Get your move on! One of the main culprits when it comes to weight gain is the slowing down of your metabolism, mainly brought upon by age-associated loss of muscle mass. Since muscle burns more calories than fat, a decrease in muscle mass can result in stacking on the pounds, despite eating the same way as you have for years. You can prevent this from happening by simply adding some resistance-training 2 – 3 times per week. Plus, strong muscles will also help keep your bones strong.
  • Consider seeking out a registered dietitian near you (no plug intended)! A recent study examined the eating habits of 419 overweight and obese menopausal and postmenopausal women. Some were set up with regular meetings with registered dietitians while the others received only limited health education. After 4 years, 57% of those who met with a dietitian maintained their weight-loss compared with only 29% of controls! Favoring a nutrition check-up at this important life point can be motivating, in addition to providing you with handy tips to keep you healthy for years to come.

As an added bonus, slimming down also reduces the risk of heart disease and breast cancer, which both go up after menopause.

Strong bones

Weak Bones

If you’ve read this far, you’re definitely ready for the longest, but potentially the most important section of this article.

The drop in estrogen production you’re bound to experience during menopause can negatively affect the structure of your skeleton! And, since women’s bones are less dense than men’s to begin with, prioritizing your bone health will help prevent your bones from breaking or your spine from buckling over with age. To avoid the ensuing less-than-flattering Quasimodo look, make sure you give the following nutrients starring roles in your daily food choices.

1) Calcium, Calcium, Calcium!

Although this mineral represents only 1 – 2% of your whole body weight, more than 99% of it finds residence in your skeleton. No wonder calcium and bones have become such a well-recognized duo! And although peak bone mass is typically achieved in our twenties, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t aim for an optimal intake in your 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond.

Think of it this way: up to your thirties, the calcium you ingest helps build your bone mass and, from then on, helps slow down its decline. And since the biggest bone loss tends to occur in the first 5 years following menopause, failing to get your fill can leave you with a significantly brittler skeleton.

To make sure you get your fill, aim to consume 1000mg per day pre-menopause and 1200mg per day once you hit the big “M”. It’s best to do so by opting for these calcium-rich foods, as they will also provide you with an interesting array of other handy nutrients.

If you find yourself unable to achieve this intake through diet alone, you may want to consider opting for a supplement. But do not exceed 500mg per dose, as your body is limited in how much calcium it can absorb at once.

calcium rich foods

2) Vitamin D

Also know as the sunshine vitamin, one of vitamin D’s main roles is to help your intestines absorb the calcium you eat. Put simply, eating enough calcium won’t help if you can’t absorb said calcium! For this reason, vitamin D plays a crucial role when it comes to your bone health.

Let me put it this way: if our ancestors had to rely on foods to get their vitamin D fix, our species wouldn’t have lasted very long! That’s because not many foods contain any. Luckily, our body can produce its own through simple exposure to the sun. All it takes is 10 – 30 minutes spent in the midday sun, without sunscreen, 3 times a week on days where sunburn is possible. But keep in mind this is only an average, as the darker your skin, or the older you are, the more sun exposure you need.

N.B. Those living in northern latitudes (where exposing the arms and legs to the sun may not be so practical between the months of October and May) may want to consider a daily vitamin D supplement, providing between 600 – 1000 IU.

Protein foods

3) Protein

After decades of criticism for alleged bone-damaging effects, protein is now back on the list of bone-protecting nutrients. In addition to building and maintaining your muscles (which are super important for the overall health of your skeleton), eating enough protein can also help increase calcium absorption, stimulate bone growth and slow down bone loss.

To ensure you get enough, include a source of protein at each meal (including breakfast) as well as with each snack. Top choices include meats, dairy products, beans, eggs, nuts and seeds.

4) Vitamin K

This perhaps less-know vitamin plays, none the less, an essential role in bone health. So much so that research found that a low vitamin K intake is linked to poorer bone mineral density (an indicator of bone health) in both women and men.

You can get your daily fill by favoring vitamin K-rich foods such as leafy green veggies (think spinach, kale, and beet greens) as well as soy, canola and olive oils. And since a little fat can enhance vitamin K absorption, why not give your spinach a quick sauté in one of the oils listed above? You’ll be set to go!

5) Potassium

By helping balance out acidity-causing factors, potassium-rich foods may help reduce calcium loss from bone. It’s quite difficult to reach your potassium needs if you aren’t eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and legumes… so at the risk of sounding like a cliché of a dietitian, make sure you include some veggies at each meal!

Top potassium-rich choices include kidney and lima beans, avocados, beet greens, spinach, Swiss chard, sweet potatoes, bananas as well as tomato and orange juices.

Potassium-rich foods

6) Magnesium

Consuming enough magnesium-rich foods is linked to better bone health, whereas magnesium deficiency raises the risk of bone disease in women. That, in my book, makes a pretty strong case for getting your daily fill!

To do so, favor whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and green leafy vegetables. And, in case you hadn’t noticed, most of these foods can also be found on the potassium-rich list; talk about lighting two candles with one matchstick!

7) Vitamin C

Vitamin C is needed for synthesis of the connective tissue found in the bone matrix, which means that eating enough of it can help your bones stay strong. But before you run out to the health store to stock up on supplements, note that vitamin C is one of the easiest vitamins to include in your diet! To get enough, all you need to do is… you’ve probably guessed it; fill your plate with fruits and vegetables!

Now that you know what to eat, here’s what to stay away from:

Bone Thieves

Bone Thief # 1: Smoking

Smoking robs the bones by decreasing the absorption of calcium from the diet. Smokers also tend to experience menopause at a younger age, which means they’re unwillingly extending the total amount of years spent in the life-period during which bone loss is highest.

Too much salt

Bone Thief # 2: Salty diets.

Too strong of a love affair with the salt shaker can promote the loss of calcium in the urine, regardless of how much calcium is actually consumed in the diet. Studies even show that daily sodium intakes exceeding 2100mg per day are linked to important negative effects on bone density. To put it into context, 2100mg per day represents half of the amount of salt you’d find in 1 Big Mac, 250ml of canned soup or 2 glasses of vegetable juice.

To keep your sodium intake within recommendations, use a light hand when salting your food, and keep processed (a.k.a. salt-loaded) foods to a minimum.

Bone Thief # 3: Alcohol

When it comes to drinking, you might have heard that a moderate alcohol intake can bring on many health benefits (especially if said alcohol is red wine). The reverse of the medal is that too much alcohol not only negates said health benefits, but can also lead to poorer bone health and increased risk of fracture. The bottom line ladies; for your bone’s sake, keep it to less than 2 drinks per day!


What About Supplements?

There’s indeed a wide variety of herbal remedies on the market claiming to combat menopausal symptoms, the most often-mentioned of which are dong quai, evening primrose oil and ginseng. The unfortunate truth is that most herbal supplements haven’t been thoroughly studied, which means they might bring on negative side-effects of their own or interact with other medications you may be consuming. That’s not to say they can’t help, but your best bet remains speaking to your healthcare professional before starting to take any of these.