Common deficiency to look out for in menopause that could lead to dementia and more

Middle aged woman

Menopause can increase the risk of life-limiting conditions

Sarra Gray

By Sarra Gray

Published: 05/09/2023

- 07:00

Updated: 11/10/2023

- 15:25

Menopause can increase the risk of life-limiting conditions such as heart disease, stroke, dementia and osteoporosis

Perimenopause, often referred to as menopause, can come with a number of symptoms and side effects.

Many women will become deficient in various nutrients during this time and an expert highlighted what to be away of.

HSIS expert panel member and dietitian Dr Carrie Ruxton said: “Around menopause, women’s nutrient intakes need to adapt to support their changing health status.

"It’s more important than ever to have plenty of bone-strengthening vitamin D and calcium, for instance, as well as heart-healthy omega-3 fats and B-vitamins, which also support cognition and mood. But too many are simply unaware."

Woman eating at table

Woman should be mindful of what they are eating during menopause


While it is key to keep vitamin D and calcium levels up, the body absorbs less in the food digested during this time.

Those going through perimenopause should be aware of this and ensure they are consuming enough.

The decrease in absorption could also increase the risk of other illnesses, experts added.

Dr Nisa Aslam said: “Malabsorption increases the risk of shortfalls of B vitamins, particularly B2, B6 and B12, and this may contribute to the increased risk of cardiovascular disease and dementia seen in studies of menopausal women.”

Falling oestrogen levels impairs the metabolism which can cause a surge in levels of unhealthy LDL cholesterol.

This is thought to increase the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, the experts noted.

HSIS nutritionist, Dr Pamela Mason added: “One study found there was also a significant increase in the proportion of LDL cholesterol particles that were very small and high-density — the most dangerous type — with this rising from 10 to 13 per cent in premenopausal women to 30 to 49 per cent after menopause.

“This underlines the importance of a diet rich in antioxidant vitamins and polyphenols and heart-healthy omega-3 fats.”

Woman taking a pill

Supplements may help during menopause


As the risk of serious diseases is increased during menopause, it is important to make the right nutritional choices, the experts suggested.

Dr Catherine Hood said: "Given the importance of vitamin D for bone health and disease prevention, every woman who is perimenopausal or has gone through menopause, would be wise to take supplementary vitamin D.

"This is particularly [important] during winter but there is no reason not to, and indeed it would be practical common sense to, take vitamin D all year round."

Dr Carrie Ruxton added: “Since not everyone enjoys eating oily fish, taking an omega-3 supplement, or a multivitamin and multimineral which includes this important fatty acid, is a sensible step — particularly for women who are postmenopausal or currently struggling with menopause symptoms.”

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