The importance of zinc for healthy menopause
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Zinc and women's health share an important connection, especially during menopause. As an essential trace mineral, zinc is needed only in small amounts, but a zinc deficiency can cause a large array of long-lasting symptoms. With benefits that range from promoting a better mood, preventing weight gain, and relieving the symptoms of vaginal dryness, boosting your zinc levels during menopause may be the right choice for you.
Symptoms of menopause
Menopause is a normal biological process that marks the end of the female reproductive years. Some women experience a smooth and hassle-free menopausal transition, while others experience symptoms that range from mildly uncomfortable to debilitating. Common symptoms of menopause include:
- Hot flashes
- Mood swings and irritability
- Vaginal dryness
- Night sweats
- Weight gain
Other concerns for menopausal women include maintaining healthy blood pressure and the prevention of heart disease. Blood sugar balance, joint pain, and gut health may be top health concerns for women during this time as well.
Aside from zinc, which is involved in countless hormonal processes related to menopause, many other minerals, vitamins, and medicinal herbs are known to help alleviate symptoms of menopause. For example, calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, B-complex vitamins, and herbs like black cohosh and maca may be recommended for better health during the menopausal years and beyond. For customized recommendations, check in with your healthcare provider.
How zinc affects women's hormones during menopause
During perimenopause (the years leading up to menopause) and the menopausal years, hormone levels fluctuate and shift. Zinc offers benefits for hormone regulation, which influences and regulates the following:
- Sex hormones (like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone) for better vaginal health
- Stress hormones (like cortisol) for better mood
- And even pancreatic hormones (like insulin) for better blood sugar regulation
Many menopausal symptoms may be effectively alleviated with zinc supplementation.
One of the most emotionally upsetting symptoms of menopause is vaginal dryness. More than just dry tissues, menopausal vaginal dryness may also include vaginal atrophy or the thinning of the vaginal lining. This can cause painful intercourse and vaginal irritation. Studies have shown that low zinc levels are associated with a higher incidence of vaginal dryness during menopause, and lubricants made with zinc can significantly improve vaginal health.
Zinc is effective for diminishing menopausal acne, due to its positive effect on hormonal balance. Sufficient zinc intake also enhances the formation of keratin and collagen, essential building blocks for healthy, supple, and hydrated skin.
The irritability and mood swings associated with menopause threaten to make daily life difficult. But zinc can help with feelings of depression, sadness, rate, and annoyance. Zinc improves the stability of oxytocin, the cuddle hormone. It also supports the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain involved in the stress response and cortisol regulation. Studies have shown that menopausal women who consume enough zinc experience better mood and cognitive function.
Zinc is involved in every aspect of our immunity. To keep your immune system strong and resilient to illness and infections throughout menopause and beyond, getting enough zinc into your body is crucial. While zinc is not considered to be an antioxidant, it acts as a pro-antioxidant, working to protect the cells from oxidative stress and damage during immune reactions.
Zinc plays an important role in maintaining healthy hair. If you experience hair loss, it may be a sign that you are zinc deficient. For healthy hair with lustrous shine and strong hair follicles, pair zinc with B-vitamins and B7 (biotin).
Difficulty sleeping affects many menopausal women. Zinc supplementation can help promote good sleep, especially when combined with melatonin and magnesium. Thanks to its benefits as a sleep regulator, zinc enables you to rest deeply, and wake up energized and ready to face the day.
During menopause, a shift in hormones and a slowed metabolism often translates to extra pounds around the middle. Sufficient zinc intake may help pause and reverse menopausal weight gain. It accomplishes this via its action on blood sugar balance and insulin regulation.
How much zinc do I need daily?
Look for a zinc supplement that supplies approximately 15 to 25 mg of zinc per day to keep your zinc levels healthy and avoid zinc deficiency.
How to increase dietary zinc intake
Foods naturally rich in zinc include:
- Lamb and beef
- Nuts and seeds
- Beans and legumes
Zinc is an essential nutrient and plays many roles in the menopausal years. Because your body doesn't naturally produce zinc, you need to get it through food or supplements. Have you been convinced to add zinc to your menopausal wellness routine yet?