Menopause as we know brings with it many changes and building your knowledge and empowering yourself will help greatly to address the physical and emotional changes as they happen. One of the most important foods and vitamins at this time is Vitamin B - we call them Bouncing Beans - you get great B's in beans and they give you energy and vitality :-).
While our bodies change in perimenopause our dietary needs also change - attention to nutrition can make the biggest difference at this time. When you look at the role of each of these super vitamins you will see how important they are to your daily regime.
There are several vitamins that make up the B complex and they all play a key role in maintaining health during these years. They are necessary for strong adrenal glands, a healthy nervous system and the conversion of carbohydrates into the glucose we need for energy. Vitamin B, keeps the mucous membranes healthy, including those of the vagina. It is also an antioxidant, especially when used with vitamin C. It helps alleviate memory loss, decreases sensitivity to noise, improves concentration, relieves depression and corrects loss of appetite.
B2 is key for the release and activity of many hormones, including estrogen. It also helps keep skin, nails, and hair healthy. Good sources of B2 are milk and eggs.
B3 (Niacin) helps our bodies produce estrogen and other sex hormones. It also reduces blood cholesterol, dilates blood vessels and is often used as a supplement to prevent premenstrual headaches. It can also help with anxiety, confusion, insomnia, memory loss, irritability, apathy and depression. If you’re using B vitamins to help prevent hot flashes, be sure to use the form of niacin called niacinamide. Other forms of niacin dilate the blood vessels, which can cause flushing and worsen hot flashes, rather than relieve them – that we do not want!
B6 (pyridoxine) is a natural diuretic which is effective in reducing water retention. You know those periods when you get bloating before or during your period – this is when you need B6. It also helps prevent depression and promotes calm moods and restful sleep. It also interacts with estrogen in the body. This vitamin is found in most foods and it is rare to see a deficiency. In some cases it has been found that hormone therapy can reduce your body’s levels of B6 and decreased levels can lead to depression – so if you are on HRT be mindful of this.
B9 (folic acid) helps the body make and utilise estrogen. It helps reduce forgetfulness, provides neuroprotection, eases irritability, can help insomnia and promotes the growth of healthy red blood cells (which is why a deficiency of this vitamin can lead to anemia). It is also worth noting a deficiency of folic acid has been associated with depression – you will see combined with the other B’s how essential they are for your mental and physical wellbeing in your perimenopause years. Sources of folic acid include green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans and peas.
Lastly but one of the most important - B12 lifts depression, reduces anxiety, helps decrease mood swings and also eliminates fatigue. Vegetarian sources containing high amounts of B12 include seaweeds such as arame, wakame and nori, and then back to my favourite foods – fermented foods - pickles, sauerkraut, tempeh, tamari, miso and finally B12-enriched soy products. Animal-derived sources include eggs, milk and fish. You can also get food supplements rich in B12 which are blue green algae, chlorella, barley green and spirulina.
So when you do your next food shop make sure you get those essential foods sources, include Vitamin C and get those B's into you.
Please note you can go overboard on B's - it happens to me alot :-). For me I know when I get bloods done and I'm over the range but for most people they are under the range generally - I get all my B's through my diet but if your diet isn't hitting them then do look to getting a good Vitamin B Complex - don't underestimate the power of this amazing Vitamin.
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