Journal / Menopause

Health Tips for Women Over 50

Medically reviewed by Nancy L. Belcher Ph.D, MPA

Written by Winona Editorial Team

Last updated October 14, 2021

Menopause and perimenopause are normal and natural events that can start anywhere between 35-55 years of age. Winona is here to provide health tips for women over 50, and earlier! While there is no ‘treatment’ for menopause, there are many ways to treat the often-chronic symptoms that result from menopause. The symptoms like anxiety, night sweats, hot flashes, and even weight gain can be helped with some nutrition tips aimed at your stage of life. 

Menopause symptoms like mood changes, and that lovely weight gain around your gut, are clear signs that your body is changing, but there are a few quick tips for all women to help relieve the menopause symptoms. With the changing body, our diet and nutrition needs are also changing.

For instance, the general recommended daily allowance (RDA) for calcium intake before menopause is 1000 mg, but postmenopausal women are advised to consume up to 1200 mg per day. This change in RDA is because women’s bodies are less able to absorb calcium from dietary sources, due to a decrease in estrogen production with menopause.1

The average age women will experience menopause is around 50 years, but we know the symptoms start to occur when you are actually much younger. Women just don’t notice or admit the symptoms of menopause until then. Menopause becomes ‘official’ after you’ve gone 12 months without a menstrual period. However, changes and symptoms can begin up to 5 years earlier, during a transition phase called ‘perimenopause.’ 

While in perimenopause, many women report experiencing mood changes, hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety, dry skin, memory problems, weight gain, and reduced libido. All of these symptoms are triggered by the declining levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. 

Food and nutrition play significant roles in the health and quality of life for women, especially in their menopausal years. Eating right and hitting your target RDA for certain vitamins and minerals can allow you to manage or even prevent unwanted symptoms. In addition, there are specific nutrients that can promote wellness and reduce the risk of certain diseases associated with menopause. If you are a woman in perimenopause or menopause, you may want to focus on the following nutrients to help you function optimally throughout your menopause journey.1-5

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Tips For Women: Nutrients That May Help You as You Age

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Are often under-consumed by most women over 50. The most common omega-3 fatty acid is called Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and is found in vegetable oils and nuts (esp. walnuts), flax seeds, leafy vegetables, and some animal fats.

The American Heart Association recommends supplementing with omega-3 in order to reduce the risk of heart disease.2 Studies suggest that high doses of ALA  can also reduce symptoms of depression, inflammation, and anxiety.3-4 People with high blood levels of omega-3 were found to be less likely to develop dementia.2,8

Food Sources for omega-3: 

  • Cold-water fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines. 

  • Nuts like flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts. 

  • Plant oils such as flaxseed oil, soybean oil, and canola oil. 

  • Fortified foods like certain brands of eggs, yogurt, juices, milk, and soy beverages. 

Vitamin K2: Most people have never heard of vitamin K2 or menaquinone. It’s rare in the Western diet and does not receive the attention it deserves. But this powerful nutrient is said to be the missing link between diet and a number of chronic diseases. Vitamin K2 is believed to play an essential role in bone health, blood clotting, and heart health. It helps the bones absorb the calcium we get through our diets. More importantly, it supports bone remineralization. 

Vitamin K2 also helps remove excess calcium that may build-up in the arteries and veins. About 20% of atherosclerotic plaques are composed of calcium, so vitamin K2 could be a strong factor in preventing or reversing atherosclerosis that can contribute to heart disease. 

Food Sources of Vitamin K2:

  • Mainly found in animal and fermented foods such as high-fat dairy products from grass-fed cows, egg yolks, as well as liver, and other organ meats. 

    Magnesium: Magnesium (Mg) levels start decreasing as we age, mainly because of mineral absorption issues and not enough is found in our diets. Magnesium plays a critical role in the proper functioning of the heart, blood vessels, nervous system, and muscles. It is also critical for bone development and maintenance. Low Mg levels are linked to depression, anxiety, migraines, sleep problems, muscle cramps, osteoporosis, and a lot more health concerns. 

Food Sources of Mg:

  • Foods that have dietary fiber provide magnesium. 

  • Green leafy vegetables, like spinach, seeds, and nuts (esp. pumpkin and sesame seeds, cashews, almonds, okra, and whole grains). 

  • Tap and mineral bottled waters. 

  • Dark chocolate!

Boron: Boron is a trace mineral that serves to increase magnesium absorption, bone health, arthritis relief, and brain function. Boron keeps bones and joints functioning at their best.5 Boron is harder to get now that food is produced using different farming techniques. Fruits and veggies aren’t getting as much boron as they used to.5

Food Sources of Boron: 

Vitamin D: Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus. It also supports immune health and muscle function. Over the age of 50, women have an increased risk of vitamin D deficiency, mostly because they get less sun, and vitamin D  isn’t found in as many foods. While it is important to use sunscreen, it can prevent getting enough vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency may contribute to muscle weakness, heart disease, arthritis, and osteoporosis. 

Food Sources of Vitamin D:

  • Tuna

  • Beef liver 

  • Salmon & Mackerel 

  • Egg yolks 

  • Cheese 

  • Some foods are vitamin D-fortified like breakfast cereals, milk, and juice drinks. 

  • Multivitamin supplements with Vitamin D are recommended for women over 50. 

Vitamin E: Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects cells from damage and aging.6 Vitamin E is often used as a treatment for heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, and hardening of arteries. Low vitamin E levels may cause vision problems, and muscle weakness.

Food sources of Vitamin E:

  • Vegetable oils – wheat germ, sunflower, safflower, corn, and soybean oils. 

  • Nuts like peanuts, almonds, and hazelnuts. 

  • Sunflower seeds 

  • Green leafy vegetables 

  • Fortified breakfast cereals 

  • Fruit juices, and spreads

Vitamin B12: B12 is critical for proper red blood cell production, nerve function, DNA formation, and metabolism. It is estimated that about a quarter of the population has a vitamin B12 deficiency.7 Aging affects how well a woman can absorb B12 from food. Therefore, the Institute of Medicine recommends women over 50 take supplements with B12.7 Following a vegetarian or vegan diet may put a woman at an even higher risk of vitamin B12 deficiency.

Food Sources of Vitamin B12:

  • Animal products such as fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and milk products. 

  • B12 is generally not found in plant foods.

  • Fortified breakfast cereals are an available source for vegetarians. 

Folate or Vitamin B9: Folate is essential for red blood cell production, brain development,  DNA synthesis, and even repairing blood vessels. It helps lower the development of heart disease. By increasing the daily intake of folate, the risk of death from heart failure, stroke, and coronary heart disease decreases.8

Food Sources of Vitamin B9:

  • Dark leafy vegetables like broccoli, spinach, and brussels sprouts.

  • Fruits like avocado, legumes, and eggs. 

  • Meat is low in folate, except for beef liver. 

  • Folate-enriched bread, flour, pasta, rice, and ready-to-eat cereals.

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Other Nutrients That May Help You as You Age

It’s important for women in their 50’s to maintain bone health to prevent osteoporosis and bone fractures. Good sources of calcium include milk, cheese, yogurt, and non-dairy food like broccoli, tofu, kale, and almonds. To improve calcium absorption, adequate intake of vitamin K2, magnesium, vitamin D3, and boron is critical. Calcium absorption can also be enhanced by taking it with orange juice.

Iron deficiency is also common in older women. Before menopause, women supplement iron to make up for the blood loss due to menstruation. Women in the postmenopausal phase, or those that no longer have a period, need less iron. Yet, they still need to ensure they get enough. A diet that includes cashews, beans, lentils, tofu, baked potatoes can provide good levels of iron. Red wine can also help iron absorption.

Summary

The best way to get enough essential vitamins and minerals is through a healthful, balanced diet. But, supplements are a great safety net. You should first ask your Winona healthcare provider before taking supplements to ensure they are safe and appropriate to use. If you are looking for health tips for women and natural remedies to help you in your transition journey, start an online visit with Winona. We create custom treatments so you can live your best life and offer multivitamin supplements that are specifically created for menopausal women.

Remember, while there is no ‘treatment’ for menopause, Winona is here to provide you with alternatives to help treat the often-chronic symptoms that result from menopause and perimenopause. The symptoms of menopause, like anxiety, night sweats, skin changes, hot flashes, and weight gain can be helped with some nutrition tips aimed at your stage of life.

“This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.”

References;

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10221539/

  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12588750/

  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19499625/

  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21784145/

  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8140253/

  6. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-HealthProfessional/

  7. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-b12-dosage

  8. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/STROKEAHA.110.578906