The following recommendations for calcium intake for women approaching menopause are based on a study conducted by the American National Health Institute:
– 1000 milligrams per day for women with normal estrogen levels (whether they are receiving hormone treatments or not);
– 1500 milligrams per day for women with insufficient estrogen levels.
Another U.S. study (conducted by Professor Heaney) showed that in women over 40 a clear correlation exists between calcium intake and calcium balance. The balance is only positive when calcium intake is between 1000 and 1500 milligrams per day, depending on estrogen levels. The benefits of a calcium-rich diet have been confirmed by epidemiological studies conducted in various countries around the world. Comparing two regions, one agricultural and one not, showed that women clearly benefit from ingesting dairy products – and therefore calcium – since there is a much lower incidence of femur fractures among women on calcium-rich diets.
It should be mentioned, however, that different bones react differently to increased calcium intake in menopausal women. For example, absolutely no loss of bone density occurs in metacarpal bones after 2 years of taking calcium supplements, while the same effect is not observed on the radius (the inner forearm bone).
Obtaining 1200 milligrams of calcium from food sources on a daily basis is fairly easy. Here are some common dairy products and their calcium content:
– one glass of milk = 300 milligrams of calcium
– 2 servings of yogurt = 300 milligrams of calcium
– 1 ounce (about 30 grams) of hard cheese = 300 milligrams of calcium
– 2.5 to 3.5 ounces (about 80 to 100 grams) of camembert cheese = 300 milligrams of calcium
– 10 ounces (about 300 grams) of soft white cheese = 300 milligrams of calcium.
There are other good sources of calcium, although they contain much less per serving. For example, to obtain 300 milligrams of calcium you would need to eat 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram) of oranges or a pound (about 850 grams) of cabbage. In addition, the calcium from these sources is more difficult to assimilate.
Other foods like whole grains contain only very small amounts of calcium.
As menopause approaches, it’s also a good idea to increase your intake of Vitamin E, which acts as a powerful antioxidant, protecting cells and tissue. Along with selenium, Vitamin E is one of the main anti-aging nutrients. It also has a beneficial effect on the genital organs. Since menopausal women start feeling the effects of aging more than at any other time of life, providing the body with more antioxidant substances can only be of benefit.
Main sources of Vitamin E:
– wheat germ
– hazelnuts, almonds
– leafy green vegetables (especially lettuce and spinach)
– cod liver oil
– Cobalt, which is mainly found in foods of animal origin (meat, milk, seafood) stimulates the production of red blood cells through a hormonal mediator called erythropoietine. Cobalt also helps regulate the nervous system, and alleviates symptoms linked to nervous system disorders, notably hot flushes, palpitations and anxiety. For these reasons it is an effective treatment for physical and psychological problems associated with menopause.
– Lithium is an effective treatment for all types of psychological and emotional problems, including:
– mood swings
– behavioural problems
Many of these symptoms occur during menopause. Lithium also has a beneficial effect on the circulatory system, which is also often affected during menopause. In its natural state lithium is found mainly in whole grains and seeds.
Also remember that regular physical exercise and prudent exposure to direct sunlight are both essential for staying healthy during this critical period.
Try to eat the foods contained in the following list as often as possible during menopause.
– apricots, bananas, cherries, oranges, grapefruit
– carrots, cabbage, spinach, lettuce
– cheese and other dairy products
– whole grains and seeds (especially rye)
– cod liver oil
– almonds, chestnuts, hazelnuts
– clay (dissolve a teaspoon of nutritional clay in a glass of water)
– dates, figs
Foods to avoid