Menopause is the absence of menstrual periods for 12 months. It is the time life when the ovaries cease to function. It doesn’t happen overnight; the onset is a gradual process. It usually begins at 51 years on average, but menopause can occur in the 30s or as late as the 60s.
For most women menopause lasts approximately 2 to 10 years, usually from their mid-forties to mid-fifties.
There is no way to reliably test to know when a woman will experience menopause. Vaginal bleeding, hot flashes, vaginal and urinary symptoms, and mood changes are just some of the symptoms, along with nervousness, irritability, insomnia and headaches.
Estrogen, the primary “female” hormone, prompts the health and growth of the female reproductive organs, and keeps the vagina moisturized, well supplied with blood and elastic.
During menopause, estrogen levels generally decline but they do so irregularly. At times there is more estrogen present during perimenopause than previously.
Nutritionist Adelle Davis, author of “Let’s Get Well” says due to the fall of estrogen around the menopause, calcium absorption decreases AND urinary calcium losses are greater.
This is often the cause for menopause related symptoms like nervousness, irritability, insomnia and headaches.
Mildred Seeling, M.D. in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition speaks about estrogen decline and its symptoms – as an aspect of mineral deficiency.
“Estrogen enhances magnesium utilization and uptake by soft tissues and bone, and may explain the resistance of young women to heart disease and osteoporosis – as well as the increased prevalence of these diseases when estrogen production ceases.”
Eating well is a great start to compensating this, providing your body its essential minerals. But we are learning that your ability – or inability – to absorb calcium, and all minerals is maybe as important as the foods you choose.
Many factors influence your mineral absorption rates such as age; how badly your body needs the various minerals; whether you consume supplements with food or not; your vitamin D levels; and the type of calcium you take (rock vs. plant form for example).
Your body is a fascinating machine that constantly monitors itself. Your parathyroid gland, kidneys, liver, bones and more operate in a checks and balances system, kind of watching over each other; pushing and pulling minerals from one area of your body to the other upon demand.
The conclusion of “The evolutionary origin and significance of Menopause” states that low estrogen’s “natural” biologic advantage—its selective evolutionary purpose—is likely restricted to postpartum lactation” and that it marks “a state of human existence upon which evolutionary biologic pressures no longer operate.”
That may be a polite way of nature indicating that it’s time to take things down a couple of notches; an indirect way of saying ‘your work here is done’.
But you can be a co-author of your destiny by compensating for this estrogen led reduction in absorption. Thanks to tireless researchers, you now know that your calcium and magnesium absorption, due to decreased estrogen levels, before and during menopause, can be very compromised for years on end.
Make up for it with lots of calcium and magnesium rich foods like dark leafy greens, sesame, nuts, beans, lentils, fish (mackerel), avocados, figs and more. Or if life gets in the way of sourcing and eating healthy all the time, then it just makes good sense to take calcium and mineral supplements, so you don’t come up short.
Getting and absorbing the right amounts of calcium and magnesium, before and during menopause, may be an easy, safe and affordable solution for the nervousness, irritability, insomnia and headaches that many experience.