Diet and Menopause

Nitin Chhoda

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For many women, it's a period that is associated with more than just physical discomfort. The emotional stress linked with pre-menstrual syndrome has the potential to cause disruptions in any woman's life. Fortunately, there is a lot that can be done to take control. A vast majority of the symptoms of PMS, and even menopause can be minimized, with some dietary measures.


Classically, a woman experiences one or more of the following, in the week preceding menstruation - anxiety, tension, headaches, depression, breast tenderness, water retention, bloating, low energy and irritability.

Vitamin B6 has been shown in many studies to help many pre menstrual sufferers. Lately, researchers have discovered that Vitamin B6 combined with zinc is even more effective. (The latter helps convert B6 to its active form in the body).

Cereals made from wheat and bran, beans, lentils are rich in Vitamin B6.

Magnesium is particularly effective in reducing the syptoms of breast tenderness and swelling. More recently, scientists have found that GLA or gamma-linoleic acid; found in evening primrose oils has a 60 % success rate. (Both magnesium and GLA have several other beneficial effects in the body. ) They are essential for all of us, but even more so for those with PMS.

On average, within 3-5 months on a diet or supplement program high in Vitamin B6, zinc and magnesium, a significant improvement can be achieved.

In some cases of PMS, hormonal changes disturb blood sugar control and bring on sugar (and stimulant) urges, associated with tiredness and irritation. In such cases, a low sugar, no stimulant diet can make a remarkable difference. Avoid sodas, concentrated juices, sauces and high amounts of caffeine. In a small percentage of women, PMS indicates a pronounced hormonal imbalance, which responds neither to diet, nor supplements. Such an imbalance is usually due to estrogen dominance and a relative lack of the hormone progesterone. This condition can be bought about due to prolonged use of the birth control pill. It needs testing and treatment by a qualified nutrition consultant or doctor.


The natural transition from the childbearing phase of life for every woman, menopause often occurs between the ages of 45 to 50 (sometimes earlier). It may arrive without many symptoms, but is often accompanied by a host of them such as hot flashes, night sweats, and tiredness and joint pains.


Calcium assumes far greater importance during these years. In fact, a combination of calcium and magnesium in a ‘bone formula’ tablet (in addition to vitamin D) is often more effective than standard calcium tablets. These work best when eaten with high protein foods (meat, eggs, beans) and prior to bedtime, since calcium helps promote sleep. Ideally, younger women should start taking calcium supplements (and not wait till menopause) to build up the calcium ‘stockpiles’ in the bones. Start consuming high calcium foods such as non-fat skimmed milk, dairy products and beans.


Vitamin B9 or folic acid (40-60 mg) is very beneficial. Oranges , spinach, leafy green vegetables, beans, and walnuts are rich sources of folic acid.

Nitin Chhoda is a renowned personal trainer, columnist, radio and TV personality and trains clients in 12 countries online from Would you like a free $ 250 package? This includes Nitin’s bi-monthly fitness newsletter, free exercise routines for toning at home, sample diets, grocery shopping lists, online books and unlimited email support from Nitin – all FREE for a limited time, register today at


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