Menopause can feel like a world-shaking time in a woman’s life. It’s not uncommon for perimenopausal and menopausal women to experience a wide range of unwelcome symptoms often difficult to manage.
Supplements are an excellent way to balance hormones naturally to continue to feel your best. This blog will explore 13 supplements you should consider taking if you’re experiencing hormonal imbalances!
For maximum effectiveness, supplements to balance hormones should be combined with healthy eating and stress management.
Menopause and hormone imbalance
Weight gain, anxiety, mood swings (elevated or depressive), trouble sleeping through the night, hot flashes, night sweats, decreased energy, and fatigue and common in this stage of life and the years leading to menopause.
Definitely not fun!
But before digging dip into how to minimize the symptoms, let’s understand what happens with the women’s hormones during these stages in life.
During perimenopause, estrogen levels begin to decrease.
As estrogen decreases, it creates an imbalance of other hormones and can cause a variety of symptoms.
Estrogen and cortisol
Before perimenopause, the estrogen levels help to regulate cortisol production. As a result, this stress hormone is released during periods of high-stress levels.
As estrogen decreases during the years leading to menopause, cortisol production increases, leading to symptoms such as weight gain or an increase in fat cells on the waistline due to increased abdominal fat from being stressed out all the time.
Also, because cortisol levels are high in the morning and lower at night, women in menopause can experience difficulties falling asleep. The quality of sleep also decreases as estrogen is a natural sedative that declines during this time.
Additionally, high cortisol levels during perimenopause due to an imbalance with estrogen can cause a woman to experience fatigue or “brain fog.”
Finally, as estrogen decreases, these hormone changes can affect mood swings, irritability, anxiety, sadness, and anger more than before perimenopause. For example, morning anxiety is common due to higher than usual levels of cortisol.
Progesterone is another hormone that changes through the perimenopausal and menopausal years.
Healthy levels of progesterone support the thyroid, which produces hormones that regulate your metabolism.
When progesterone decreases during perimenopause and menopause, symptoms such as hair loss, thinning skin, and weight gain may occur.
Lifestyle changes are the first and most important thing that you can do to improve your quality of life during this new stage in your life. Still, supplements that balance hormones help to reach the therapeutic doses necessary for health.
Major Contributors to Hormone Balance
- Perimenopause and menopause
- Stress levels
- Gut issues
- Overweight and obesity
- Inflammation related to diet and lifestyle
- Toxicity levels in the body
Symptoms of hormonal imbalance
- problems sleeping
- weight gain or loss
- craving for specific foods
- changes in hunger and appetite
- chronic pain and headaches
- hormonal acne
- hair loss
While there is not much we can do about our chronological age and life cycle; the rest is under our control.
Natural supplements to balance hormones can be very effective and truly help manage the symptoms; however, they are not a substitute for healthy eating. Follow a healthy diet that includes protein, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats.
Also, stress management is essential.
Suplements to balance hormones
Many women will need supplements to balance hormones during perimenopause and menopause because of the changes in hormone levels.
Minerals for hormone imbalance
Zinc is an essential microelement that plays many important functions in the body.
This mineral is crucial for regulating cellular growth, hormone release, immunological response, and reproduction (1).
Zinc’s role in regulating cellular growth can help boost hormonal levels such as progesterone, thus helping to restore balance.
Also, because zinc is involved in stress response, it can help to stabilize cortisol levels.
That being said, zinc can be depleted by prolonged periods of high stress. Thus, a zinc supplement might become necessary to keep a balance in cortisol levels.
Zinc deficiency can lead to increased cortisol and inflammation (2)
Magnesium is important during perimenopause because it helps balance hormones and reduces the stress response.
In addition, other roles of magnesium in the body include reducing inflammation, regulating blood sugar, keeping bones strong, promoting a healthy heart rate, decreasing anxiety, and easing depression (3). As a result, a magnesium deficiency can make some of the menopause symptoms worst.
Foods high in magnesium include leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, dry beans, and whole grains. However, many will benefit by supplementing with tablets/pills.
Vitamins for hormonal imbalance
While you can get vitamin D from the sun, it’s not always easy to get enough vitamin D from this source alone. This is because many factors impact how your body makes vitamin D. For example, excess weight, dark skin, and sun protection can decrease the production of this vitamin.
In addition to the sunshine, foods such as fatty fish (salmon), eggs, fortified milk, or cereal are also good sources of vitamin D. Still, it’s not always easy for people on special diets like vegetarianism to get enough through diet alone.
Supplements are a way to make sure you’re getting enough. Supplying the body with vitamin D can help balance hormones, reduce the risk of breast cancer and other types of cancers, improve immune function, and more.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends that adults take a daily 600 IU of vitamin D. However, you may need more or less depending on many factors.
Your health care provider may recommend a much higher dosage to correct an existing deficiency.
Vitamins B (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, B6, biotin, folate, and B12) play an important role in health and well-being. As the building blocks of a healthy body, B vitamins directly impact your energy levels, brain function, and cell metabolism.
In menopause, vitamin B complex supplements are recommended for women who don’t have a balanced diet due to their changing appetite or eating habits. For example, vegan diets are deficient in vitamin B12 because this vitamin is primarily found in animal products.
Additionally, supplements will be necessary for the menopausal stage for women who had certain types of surgery, such as a hysterectomy that causes them to lose some nutrients from their stomach or intestines.
Beyond the well-known function of protecting the immune system, vitamin C plays a role in stress management.
In addition, the antioxidants vitamin C will improve immune function by slowing down the aging process by protecting cells from oxidative damage caused by environmental toxins (air pollution) and other factors during cell metabolism (10).
Moreover, the role of vitamin C is significant in protecting the body against oxidative stress during menopause when there’s a drop in estrogen production.
It also plays a key role in relieving hot flashes, insomnia, and losses of mental acuity associated with menopause (11).
Food sources of vitamin C include oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, and peppers.
|Important! Vitamins and minerals are phenomenal natural supplements to balance hormones. However, it is always a good idea to measure your levels before taking supplements to dose each one correctly.|
Gas, blading, belching, constipation, and abdominal discomfort are some of the issues that many menopausal women face in their 40s and 50s (5).
This happens because the changes in estrogen and progesterone levels in the years leading up to menopause can alter the entire process of digestion.
As mentioned earlier, estrogen plays a role in balancing cortisol levels, the stress hormone. When too much cortisol is available, the body increases the amount of glucose in the blood to respond to a flight or fight situation. It also halts other systems in the body, such as the GI.
That being said, menopause can also result in lower production of stomach acid and slowed GI motility leading to perimenopause constipation that continues well beyond that stage. Gas and bloating are also related to these hormonal changes.
Additionally, too little progesterone can also decrease GO motility, another cause of constipation.
Probiotic supplements support the GI system by increasing healthy bacteria populations in the gut; this helps balance hormones and reduce stress levels.
To learn more about probiotics, read this blog post.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Healthy fats (such as olive oil, avocado, ghee, omega 3 fatty acids, nuts, and seeds) help manage the hormones related to insulin resistance (6) and might reduce menopause-related anxiety in women (7).
Foods containing omega 3 include salmon, mackerel, tuna, walnuts, and chia seeds. However, food might not provide enough omega-rich fat for a therapeutic dose of these essential fatty acids, making supplements necessary for most women.
Adaptogenic herbs for hormone balance
Herbal supplements such as adaptogen herbs can be a great way to manage stress and maintain hormonal balance during menopause.
These herbs have been used for centuries throughout Asia to combat the adverse effects of aging, including poor concentration, irritability, anxiety, fatigue, and depression.
The word adaptogen comes from the Latin “ad aptus,” meaning “to make fit.”
Adaptogen herbs are safe for most people; however, they should no be consumed by pregnant women or women diagnosed with any autoimmune disorder such as lupus.
Stress reduction might be because this ancient herb may help to reduce cortisol levels (13).
Another great benefit of this herb is the potential to increase muscle mass and strength, an issue that most women after 40 faces (14).
This herb is available in tables, powder, and capsules.
Black cohosh root
This root has been used in Germany since the 1940s and might help relieve menopausal symptoms by increasing estrogen levels in the body (15)
In many studies, supplements containing black cohosh root have been shown to be effective for helping with hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness. However, the evidence of the effectiveness is non-conclusive enough for reputable associations to endorse the use of black cohosh root (16)
While there are not many adverse side effects reported with the use of black cohosh root, there are established cases of liver damage (17).
Thus, it is wise to consult with a health care provider knowledgeable in herbal medicine, such as a doctor specializing in functional medicine.
Traditionally used in Peru, maca root is an adaptogen containing natural estrogens. Studies suggest that maca can help to reduce hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and vaginal dryness (18).
The effects of maca on menopause relief appear to be through the modulation of antioxidant enzymes (19).
Maca root is also a good source of vitamin C, B1, and B2 (20), and it is available in powder, extracts, and capsules.
Licorice root has been shown to be a safe and effective alternative treatment for menopause.
One of the ways that the licorice root works is by decreasing the frequency and severity of hot flushes (21), and it is available as tea, powder, and extracts in capsules.
Holy basil is an Indian herb that has been traditionally used for a wide variety of health problems (22).
Among many other benefits, holy basil or tulsi helps to manage cortisol levels reducing stress and anxiety.
This herb is available in pills, capsules, or you can use it as an essential oil.
The hormones in your body can be a delicate balance, and when you get to the age of 40, it seems like they don’t work the same.
Supplements can significantly improve the unwelcomed symptoms of perimenopause and menopause.
However, nothing can replace healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle. Combining regular exercise, proper hydration, better sleep, and steps to achieve good mental health.
Beyond improving menopause symptoms, a healthy lifestyle results in a healthy weight and improves your overall health.
Dr. Su-Nui Escobar is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist in Miami, FL. She is passionate about helping women over 40 live their best lives through healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle. Su-Nui is a doctor in clinical nutrition, able to translate complicated evidence-based science into practical advice. Su-Nui’s charisma and warmth have made her a frequent guest on Hispanic popular morning television shows.