13 Best Supplements for Menopause

A healthy diet and lifestyle are key to thriving during mid-life hormone changes as a woman, but you may find even more support by adding some of the best supplements for menopause to your routine!

by
Kelsey Kunik, RDN
— Signos
RDN
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Updated by

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Science-based and reviewed

Published:
July 19, 2024
June 17, 2024
— Updated:

Table of Contents

Even though menopause and perimenopause are a natural part of life and one that all women will eventually experience, that doesn’t mean you need to suffer through the headache (literal and figurative) that comes with it. Drops in estrogen levels can bring about symptoms that disrupt your quality of life, like hot flashes, sleep disturbances, irritability, vaginal dryness, pain during sex, low libido, moodiness, and depression. These symptoms can occur for anywhere from seven to fourteen years as the body transitions from perimenopause to menopause, the point where menstruation stops. 

While hormone replacement therapy is a common treatment for perimenopause symptoms, some people may choose to address these changes through more natural methods like lifestyle and nutrition changes as well as supplements. While few supplements have proven beneficial during this season of hormone changes, others may not be as helpful and could even be harmful in high doses or when combined with certain medications. 

If you’re in the thick of the menopause transition period or just preparing for it, this article will cover common nutritional strategies, common supplements for menopause, and other ways to manage your menopause symptoms.

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Why Is Nutrition Important During Menopause?

In addition to irritability, hot flashes, and night sweats, some lesser-known and obvious symptoms of dropping estrogen include decreased bone density and a slower metabolism, both of which can lead to detrimental health problems if not addressed. 

Because estrogen helps to protect bones, the drop in this hormone can lead to weakened and brittle bones as menopause occurs. Up to 20% of bone density is lost during the menopause and post-menopausal stages, so a diet high in nutrients like vitamin D and calcium is essential for keeping bones strong.1 This includes dairy, fatty fish like salmon and tuna, and leafy greens. Limiting alcohol and avoiding smoking will also help to keep bones strong during this stage. 

Focusing on a nutrient-rich diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins helps support bone health and reduces the burden of a slower metabolism and increased inflammation. Both of these factors can increase the risk of heart disease and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.2 Antioxidant-rich foods like fruits and vegetables and foods high in unsaturated fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids like fish, walnuts, flax, and avocados can help support your health before menopause. 

What Are the Best Natural Supplements for Menopause?

While supplements can’t take the place of hormone replacement therapy, select ones may help ease the effects of decreasing estrogen and progesterone in the years leading up to menopause. While the North American Menopause Society doesn’t recommend herbal or dietary supplements because of limited or inconsistent scientific evidence, several popular supplement options have some scientific or anecdotal evidence supporting their use. Here are popular natural menopause supplements and how they may (or may not) help. 

To Ease Night Sweats/Hot Flashes

They come on quickly and go just as fast. Over half of all women will experience hot flashes as their hormones begin to shift around menopause.3 The heat, flushing, sweating, anxiety, and chills can come on and go as quickly as one to five minutes, and while mostly benign, they tend to creep up at the most inconvenient of times. Here are common supplements that may help with hot flash symptom relief. 

Black Cohosh

A supplement made from the roots and rhizomes of a perennial plant native to North America, it’s most commonly used for the vasomotor symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes and night sweats. While many clinical studies have found some benefits from supplementing with black cohosh, others have found no difference. In contrast, one even found that symptoms intensified for women using this herbal remedy.4 More studies are needed to prove its effectiveness. 

Soy Foods

Foods like edamame, tofu, soy milk, and tempeh come from soy, a natural source of phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogen is a chemical that looks and acts on the body in a way that’s similar to estrogen. Research has found that phytoestrogens can help minimize the effects of falling estrogen levels on bone loss.5 One study found that women who drink soy milk at least once per day are 56% less likely to develop osteoporosis than those who do not.6

Ground Flaxseed

Flaxseed is rich in lignans, a class of phytoestrogens that have a weak estrogen-like effect on the body. Studies have found that flaxseed benefits vasomotor symptoms of menopause, like hot flashes and night sweats.7 While ground flaxseed is a good choice for helping combat hot flashes, it’s also one of the top superfoods for weight loss as it helps support a healthy digestive system and is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids.

Other Phytoestrogens

While soy foods and flaxseeds are high in phytoestrogens, they’re not the only options. Garlic, celery, potatoes, rice, apples, and even coffee have various amounts of phytoestrogens.8

For Mood Swings

The risk of emotional disorders and anxiety increases with menopause, and even without diagnosable emotional impairments, many women will experience mood swings as their hormones start to shift.9

St. John’s Wort

St. John’s Wort is best known for its mood-enhancing effects to combat depression, but it may also benefit moodiness and irritability in menopause. Some research has found that this herbal remedy works, as well as some selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), although it does interact with quite a few medications, so be cautious and always talk with a healthcare professional before adding it to your routine.10

Ginseng

There are several types of ginseng, and research has found inconclusive evidence that it can help with menopause symptoms. However, one 2016 review found that Korean red ginseng improved the sex drive, mood, and general sense of well-being in menopausal and postmenopausal women.11

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Polyunsaturated fatty acids like the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA found in fatty fish like salmon and tuna may have a beneficial effect on mood during menopause by helping to reduce inflammation and interacting with various neural mechanisms, including increasing serotonin in the brain.10

Alternatives to Hormones

While research has yet to prove that any natural remedies are as effective as hormone replacement therapy, some people choose to try these natural hormone alternatives in an attempt to avoid the increased risk of breast cancer and tumor growth from artificial hormones.12

Wild Yam

Wild Yam contains a phytoestrogen known as diosgenin, which can be converted into progesterone. While it’s advertised as a natural source of estrogen, clinical studies have yet to find evidence that it can reduce the symptoms of menopause or raise estrogen levels in the body.13

Apigenin

Apigenin is a compound naturally found in celery, apples, and parsley. It is sometimes used to help relieve symptoms of menopause without the effects of synthetic hormones, like increased cancer risk and tumor growth.14

Nutrition Supplements

While a nutrient-rich balanced diet is essential, sometimes you need a little support from nutrition supplements, especially with the increased needs of the perimenopause and menopause period. These vitamins, minerals, and supplements can help address potential side effects of menopause. 

Calcium

Menopause accelerates bone loss to 2 to 5% each year for up to ten years and increases your risk for developing osteoporosis.15 Lower estrogen levels reduce the ability of bones to absorb calcium and increase the amount you excrete through urine. Supplementing with calcium can help support strong bones and minimize losses through this time. While eating calcium-rich foods like dairy, dark leafy greens, canned fish, and cereals can help you get calcium, you may also want to take calcium supplements to ensure you’re getting the recommended 1,200 milligrams daily.16

Magnesium

To help preserve bone density during menopause, you may also want to supplement with magnesium. Up to 60% of the magnesium in the body is stored in bones, and low magnesium levels can lead to an increase in inflammation and a decrease in the activity of bone-building cells.17 Eating magnesium-rich foods, like leafy greens, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and beans,  or supplementing with magnesium can help preserve bone density post-menopause.18

Fiber

A high-fiber diet can lower the risk of weight gain and metabolic syndrome, as well as help fight depressive symptoms during the perimenopause period. Most Americans, women in menopause included, do not get the recommended amount of fiber daily. Current recommendations are for 30 to 45 grams of fiber per day for women in menopause. You can get all the fiber from fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains and supplement with additional fiber if needed.19

Probiotics

Changing hormone levels can disrupt the gut, creating an imbalance of good and bad bacteria. This can lead to a slew of health conditions, from increased illness to mood changes or even an increased risk of heart disease or breast cancer.20  Eating probiotic-rich foods or supplementing with probiotics may help reduce symptoms of menopause by creating a diverse and healthy gut microbiome. Foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi are all excellent sources of probiotics. 

<p class="pro-tip"><strong>Also Read: </strong><a href=blood-sugar-and-menopause>Menopause and Blood Sugar: What Happens & How to Handle It</a>.</p>

Other Ways to Manage Menopause Symptoms

In addition to nutritional and herbal supplements, various lifestyle changes can make it easier to manage menopause symptoms. Some of these approaches may help reduce the symptoms you feel or just make it easier to manage them. 

  • Maintain a moderate weight
  • Avoid foods that trigger symptoms
  • Eat a nutrient-rich and balanced diet
  • Avoid smoking and limit alcohol intake
  • Dress in layers to quickly address hot flashes and night sweats
  • Talk to a therapist to help manage emotional symptoms and stress

7 Tips to Make the Most of Your Menopause Supplements

Menopause supplements can be a great way to manage symptoms and support your health during this transitional period. If you choose to take supplements, there are some strategies to keep in mind so that they’re effective and, most importantly, safe.  

  1. Talk to your doctor about the supplements you take and any you want to add to ensure there won’t be any adverse reactions related to your medical history. 
  2. Speak to your healthcare provider or pharmacist to check whether the supplement interacts with other medications you might be taking. 
  3. Check for possible allergic reactions by carefully reading the ingredient lists and introducing one supplement at a time. 
  4. Only take the recommended dosage for the supplements to avoid taking too much or too little. 
  5. Remember the potential side effects, and give yourself time to adjust to one supplement before adding another. 
  6. Supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) like medications, so it's important to buy them from reputable sources and brands that utilize third-party testing. This way, you'll know you’re getting a pure and safe product. 
  7. Monitor and track your symptoms to see how the supplement affects your body and if you’re experiencing the desired effects. 

Learn More About How to Improve Blood Sugar Health With Signos’ Expert Advice

If you’re experiencing weight gain, an increase in blood sugar, or a disruption in your metabolic health as you transition from perimenopause into menopause, Signos may be able to help. Using a continuous glucose monitor can help you understand how your body processes the food you eat and help you eat and move for your healthiest self. Read about blood sugar management on Signos’ blog and take the free quick quiz to see if Signos is right for you!

<p class="pro-tip"><strong>Learn More: </strong><a href=best-vitamins-for-women-over-50>What Vitamins Are Most Important for 50+ Women? Sources + Tips</a>.</p>

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References

  1. Endocrine Society. (2022, January 24). Menopause and bone loss. Endocrine Society. https://www.endocrine.org/patient-engagement/endocrine-library/menopause-and-bone-loss 
  2. McCarthy, M., & Raval, A. P. (2020). The peri-menopause in a woman’s life: A systemic inflammatory phase that enables later neurodegenerative disease. Journal of Neuroinflammation, 17(1), 317. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12974-020-01998-9 
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About the author

Kelsey Kunik is a registered dietitian, health and wellness writer, and nutrition consultant

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Please note: The Signos team is committed to sharing insightful and actionable health articles that are backed by scientific research, supported by expert reviews, and vetted by experienced health editors. The Signos blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider. Read more about our editorial process and content philosophy here.

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