The most common deficiency associated with menopause is of the hormone oestrogen, however studies have shown that women going through menopause are also often iron deficient, which can lead to a variety of health issues. Below are some things to consider if you are approaching menopause or going through it.
Iron Requirements Prior to Menopause
Iron deficiencies are common in pre-menopausal women who get their menstrual periods monthly. This is because iron is lost through the blood on regular cycles.
Since post-menopausal women at some point stop having their periods, many do not lose as much iron as they did before over time. However, other processes in the body may still lead to being iron deficient.
Iron Requirements after Menopause
When a woman reaches menopause, lack of iron may lead to many other uncomfortable, embarrassing and even degenerative conditions. Several studies have linked iron to hot flashes, and people with iron deficiencies often report reduced cold tolerance and body temperature regulation.
Osteoporosis is another major concern for some women of menopausal age, and an iron deficiency can affect bone density, which is essential for keeping healthy and strong bones throughout the aging process. Women going through menopause often experience fatigue, and this could also be due to iron deficiency.
The following are some of the most common symptoms in women who have an iron deficiency
why Menopause May Lead to Anaemia
Both iron and oestrogen are critical growth nutrients in the development of a woman’s body. While oestrogen is connected with tissue growth and function, iron helps transport oxygen, produce energy, and synthesize DNA.
Women can have an increased menstrual blood flow during the time leading up to menopause and even during menopause, which means that more iron is being released through the blood and leaving the body low on iron. It may take many years for a woman going through menopause to reach the same iron levels as a man her age.
Other medical conditions, such as ulcers, haemorrhoids, celiac disease, or cancer, may also cause iron levels to be low at this time. Another nutrient that menopausal women need to be mindful of losing during this time is vitamin B12. Menopausal woman who are vegan or vegetarian are at a greater risk of Vitamin B12 deficiency.
Iron Rich Foods for Your Diet
Luckily, there are many types of food that are iron-rich and can help menopausal women maintain healthy iron levels. These include:
Lean red meat, especially liver
Seafood, especially oysters
Dark leafy greens, such as spinach and kale
Dried fruits, like apricots and raisins
Supplementation During Menopause
However, sometimes the iron needs of women during menopause are more than what can be obtained from food alone. To make sure you’re not deficient, I recommend checking your blood for Iron and Vitamin B12 and if required take good quality supplements.
Menopause is a huge time of change and transformation for the female body, so make sure to discuss all of your symptoms and concerns with your healthcare professional to find menopause solutions that are right for you.