Menopause | Complications

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How does menopause affect bone health?

The older a woman is, the greater her risk of osteoporosis. A woman’s risk becomes even greater when she goes through menopause. When your estrogen level decreases during menopause, you lose more bone than your body can replace. This makes your bones weaker and more likely to break. To keep your bones strong, it’s important to get enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet, which helps your body absorb calcium.

Your doctor can suggest ways to get more calcium through food, drink and, possibly, a calcium supplement. He or she may also suggest that you take a vitamin D supplement to help your body process calcium. Ask your doctor what amount of daily calcium and vitamin D is right for you.

In general, women 30 to 50 years of age need 1,000 mg of calcium each day. Women older than 50 years of age need 1,200 mg of calcium each day. Milk, yogurt and other dairy foods are good sources of calcium. Soybeans, broccoli and tofu are, too.

Women 30 to 70 years of age usually need at least 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D each day. Women older than 70 years of age need at least 800 IU of vitamin D each day. Fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna, is a good source of vitamin D.

How does menopause affect heart health?

Women are more likely to develop heart disease after menopause. Lower estrogen levels may be part of the cause, in addition to other health issues that are more common as women get older. These include gaining weight, becoming less active, and developing high blood pressure or diabetes. You can reduce your risk of these health problems by eating a variety of healthy, nutrient-rich foods, staying active and maintaining an appropriate weight.

How does menopause affect iron levels in my blood?

If you are still having periods as you go through menopause, you may continue to be at risk of a low iron level, especially if your bleeding is heavy or you spot between periods. This can lead to anemia. Eating at least 3 servings of iron-rich foods a day will help you get enough iron in your diet. Good sources of iron include spinach, beans and meat. Your doctor may also suggest that you take an iron supplement.

Bibliography

See a list of resources used in the development of this information.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff.

Portions of this content were developed with general underwriting support from Nature Made®.

Reviewed/Updated: 03/14
Created: 01/96

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