If you’ve been feeling more exhausted and unmotivated thoroughly, fatigue is a common symptom of menopause. While some women experience mild fatigue, others experience severe and become very hard to manage.
In a study conducted on 300 individuals by the National Institute of Health, about 85.3% of postmenopausal women have experienced both physical and mental fatigue during menopause. It is among the most disturbing menopause symptoms and, in some cases, can become severe. So what’s the connection between fatigue and menopause, and what are the top 10 vitamins for menopause fatigue? This piece discusses it all!
Does Menopause Cause Fatigue?
Yes. Fatigue is one of the common symptoms of menopause and can be experienced at any stage of menopause. A study has found that fatigue is more common in the late phases of menopause. Here’s a breakdown:
- 85.3% of postmenopause women
- 46.5% of perimenopause women
- 19.7% of women have not entered perimenopause.
Also, a larger study was carried out on 1113 women and found that 73% of them are affected by fatigue at various stages of menopause, making it a prevalent symptom.
What does Menopause Fatigue Look Like?
As humans, we sometimes feel exhausted or burned out, but there are some easy ways to recover and feel energetic once we follow. The case is different with menopause fatigue – it is a persistent and severe form of tiredness that lasts for several months, if not years.
This chronic fatigue makes you wake up exhausted in the morning, feeling as if you’ve not slept. Or maybe you’ll be less productive at work or not function properly at home with your family. You’ll be too tired to carry out even basic house chores; you’d prefer to spend the day taking a nap or lying on the couch.
In some cases, women experience mental fatigue. This leads to difficulty concentrating on basic issues, thinking, and making decisions, making them feel moody.
Menopausal fatigue makes you feel more drained with feelings of zero energy or motivation and causes a turnaround in the overall quality of your life. This form of fatigue also leads to:
Poor quality sleep
Feeling exhausted and weary every time
Finding it difficult to concentrate, think or make decisions
Always craving sweet and salty foods
Not being able to handle stress
Taking more stimulants and caffeine drinks
Higher energy levels in the evenings
Weaker immune system
However, it’s important to know that the signs and symptoms of menopause fatigue can also be signs of some underlying physical or mental health conditions. Therefore, you should talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing these symptoms and aren’t sure of the cause.
What are the Causes of Menopause Fatigue?
The cause of fatigue during menopause changes hormone levels during the menopause transition.
As a woman enters perimenopause, the levels of estrogen and progesterone produced by the ovaries decrease drastically, which can chronically disrupt the activities of other hormones like the thyroid and adrenal hormone. Because these hormones have a role in regulating cellular energy, their imbalances can cause fatigue.
Also, the low levels of estrogen and progesterone have been linked with a short temper and inability to relax. So, this can make it hard for women to sleep or relax.
What more? Decreases in reproductive hormones also affect the levels of thyroid and cortisol (stress hormone). More cortisol will be produced when you’re too stressed, thus excavating the stress cycle. When high levels of cortisol and thyroid are coupled with low levels of estrogen and progesterone, the body won’t be able to get proper rest.
Another cause of menopause fatigue is sleep apnea – a sleeping disorder that causes the breath to stop and start repeatedly. During menopause, women experience an imbalance in reproductive hormones, increasing their risk of sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea causes oxygen deprivation, leading to waking up several times at night. The condition can cause daytime fatigue, heart problems, and some heart diseases if left untreated.
Sleep apnea symptoms include fatigue, restlessness at night, loud snoring, forgetfulness, anxiety, night sweats, and sexual dysfunction.
Other symptoms of menopause, such as night sweats and hot flashes, can also cause Menopause fatigue. Moreover, insomnia, another symptom of menopause, can lead to tiredness during the day and lack of sleep at night.
Research carried out in 2019 also shows that women go through many societal pressures at mid-ages, which can cause chronic stress and fatigue. For example, women in their mid-ages may still be taking care of their children and old parents and are probably at the height of their careers while still going through menopause.
Some underlying medical conditions like anemia, allergy, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and Hay Fever can cause extreme fatigue and tiredness.
Top 10 Vitamins for Menopause Fatigue Treatment
There are a lot of ways to treat menopause fatigue. From a healthy diet to exercise and HRT. But sometimes, there’s the need for more, like vitamins, to help combat fatigue and other menopause symptoms.
Moreover, your levels of body nutrients change as you age, requiring more of some nutrients and less of some.
Below Is A List Of The Top 10 Vitamins That Can Help Relieve menopause.
1. Vitamin A
Vitamin A is one of the hormones that can play a great role during menopause. While it doesn’t directly relieve a certain menopause symptom, it supports immunity and thyroid hormone functioning. This way, it can help balance the hormone level and reduce body stress levels.
The body gets Vitamin A from two sources. The beta carotene form found in fruits and vegetables is converted to vitamin A when consumed. The second one is the retinol form found in animals and dairy products.
Some good sources of Vitamin A include beef liver, oily fish, butter, winter squash, red peppers, kale, carrots, grapefruit, mango, and cantaloupes.
The recommended amount of vitamin A to be taken daily as a supplement is 700 Mcg. Avoid high amounts of vitamin A intake as it can cause dizziness, blurry vision, vomiting, and an increased risk of lung cancer.
A bonus tip: Vitamin A is fat soluble. Therefore, it is absorbed better when taken with little fat. So, consider taking it with some healthy fats like nuts, seeds, or olive oil.
If you’re already on retinol or blood thinning medications, consider talking to your healthcare provider before you start taking vitamin A.
2. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble nutrient that’s found in a lot of foods. It plays a role in the formation of red blood cells and the production of DNA and also increases bone health and neurological functions.
B12 also protects the brain and heart, supports gut health, and improves the functioning of the eyes.
As you age, the body starts to absorb vitamin B12 slowly, therefore, exposing you to its deficiency. Some of the symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency include extreme fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite, depression, anxiety, dementia, and constipation.
During menopause, B Vitamins have been linked to relieving hot flashes and increasing cognitive functions.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance of Vitamin B12 is 2.4 mcg daily for females 14 years or older. Since the body absorbs the vitamin slower when you age, you can meet this requirement by taking vitamin B12 supplements.
Some foods rich in Vitamin B12 include fortified cereals, cheese, fortified tofu, tuna, shellfish, low-fat milk, and beef.
3. Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
Vitamin B6 helps produce serotonin – a chemical that plays a role in transmitting brain signals. It is also necessary for proper metabolism, managing inflammation, and immune function.
However, as women age, the levels of serotonin fluctuate, thus leading to depression and mood swings experienced during menopause.
Increasing your intake of vitamin B6 can help reduce menopause depression and fight off fatigue by increasing serotonin levels. It can also help relieve insomnia and hot flashes.
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of Vitamin B6 is 1.3 mg daily for females between the ages of 19 to 50 and 1.5 mg for females over 50.
Some good sources of Vitamin B6 are fortified tofu, chickpeas, chicken, sweet potatoes, avocados, bananas, and potatoes. You can also take vitamin B6 supplements if you think you can’t make up for the RDA in your diet.
A caution – avoid taking high doses of vitamin B6 as it can cause nerve damage.
4. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is well known for being a remedy for the common cold. Though studies have shown that the vitamin doesn’t prevent cold, it can relieve it when taken regularly as a supplement.
Well, how does it help menopausal women? Vitamin C works as an antioxidant. Thus, it can reduce the risk of diseases caused by oxidative stress, such as cardiovascular conditions.
Also, a study has shown that perimenopause women who take a high vitamin C are likely to have more bone density and get a high score on cognitive tests. The vitamin can also help relieve hot flashes.
Moreover, it also plays a role in the healing of wounds, improving bone and cartilage health, producing collagen, and improving immune health.
The Recommended dietary allowance of Vitamin C is 75 mg per day. However, avoid taking more than 2000 mg of vitamin C daily as it can lead to stomach cramps and diarrhea.
Foods rich in vitamin C include pawpaw, kiwi, kale, guava, tomatoes, citrus fruits, and broccoli.
5. Vitamin D
The main source of Vitamin D in our bodies is exposure to sunlight. However, some foods are rich in nutrients.
A deficiency in vitamin D can increase the risk of developing osteomalacia and bone fractures. Women who practice a sedentary lifestyle and are always indoors are at more risk of vitamin D deficiency.
Also, during menopause, the hormonal changes that women go through expose them to osteoporosis. A study has shown that some women experienced a reduction of about one-fifth of their bone density during menopause. Including vitamin D-rich foods in your diet can reduce this.
Vitamin D may also support brain functioning and reduce menopausal depression and cognitive decline.
The recommended daily vitamin D intake is 15 mcg for females between the ages of 19 to 50 and 20 mcg for women over 50.
Foods rich in vitamin D include fortified foods, portabella, tofu, yogurt, eggs, cheese, mushroom, beef liver, and fatty fish. You can easily reach the daily RDA by getting exposure to the sun and including vitamin D-rich foods into your diet.
Before taking vitamin D supplements, consider talking to your healthcare provider about how much of the nutrient you need and the best way to get it. Too much vitamin D can increase kidney and heart disease risk.
Bonus Tip: Vitamin D is a Fat soluble vitamin that gets absorbed faster when taken with healthy fats like avocado, seeds, canola, or olive oil.
6. Vitamin E
Vitamin E has antioxidant properties which help in reducing oxidative stress, which is caused when there are excess free radicals.
Antioxidants have been linked to reducing the risks of some changes and diseases that a person is likely to develop as they age. Some research has linked low levels of antioxidants to anxiety and depression that most women experience at menopause.
Studies have also shown that Vitamin E can also r inflammation and ease stress, thus reducing fatigue.
Foods that contain vitamin E are brocolli, avocado, squash, shellfish, spinach, and sunflower seeds.
Women in menopause are advised to aim for 15 mg of vitamin E daily. Consider adding vitamin E-rich food to your daily diet or take supplements.
7. Vitamin K
Vitamin K plays a role in blood clotting and helps develop healthy bones.
It has also been linked to increased bone density which decreases as you age and exposes you to risks of bone problems. It isn’t a big deal! A Harvard Nurses Health Study has proven that adding a serving of leafy greens to your daily diet can reduce your risk of hip fractures. Also, Vitamin K may help stop heavy menstrual bleeding.
Some good sources of vitamin K include leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, and kale. Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, and spouts are also rich in vitamin K. The nutrient is also found in beans, soybean oil, canola oil, and okra.
A quick tip: Research suggests that vitamin K is more effective when taken with vitamin D. Moreover, if you’re taking anticoagulant medications, they may alter the effect of vitamin D in your body, so consider talking to your doctor.
Other Supplements for Menopause Fatigue
Mid-age women must be very alert about regularly taking nutrients and supplements to improve their health and relieve menopause symptoms like fatigue. In addition to the vitamins above, below are some supplements that you can consider taking to relieve symptoms:
1. Omega 3 fatty acids:
Most cells in our bodies need omega-3 fatty acids to function properly. They are very important in digestion, muscle activity, and immune function. For menopausal women, omega 3s help reduces the risk of heart diseases. They also help keep triglyceride levels balanced, reduce the risk of psychological issues, and relieve hot flashes.
National Institute of Health recommends 1100 mg of omega 3s for women daily. You can easily keep up with this RDA by consuming fish twice a week or taking supplements.
Calcium levels in the body drop significantly when estrogen is not produced, thus making it more vital for perimenopause women.
Calcium is vital for the growth of healthy bones, and menopausal women are exposed to the risk of osteoporosis due to changes in hormone levels. The recommended amount for daily intake is 1000mg for women over the age of 50.
While foods like milk, cheese, tofu, and yogurt are rich in calcium, you can take calcium supplements to meet the RDA.
Avoid taking too many calcium supplements as they can cause gastrointestinal diseases and increase the risk of cardiovascular conditions.
Magnesium is an essential nutrient that’s needed for the proper performance of the body. It affects our mood, promotes healthy bone growth, and helps balance hormone levels.
Nutrient is also involved in many biochemical reactions in our bodies. Studies have linked magnesium to common symptoms of menopause, like depression, insomnia, and risk of heart disease.
Magnesium RDA for women is 310-320 mg per day. You can include almonds, avocados, bananas, and other magnesium-rich food, or consider talking to your doctor about taking magnesium supplements.
Our gut is a biome with millions of microorganisms that perform different functions, from helping digestion to supporting mental health and improving psychological functions.
During menopause, probiotics can help you manage digestive issues like constipation and bloating. And also improves vaginal health.
There’s no specific daily RDA for probiotics. Just ensure you go for a supplement with at least five strains of bacteria.
Also, please read the label of the supplements to ensure you store them properly.
Other Ways to Fight Menopause Fatigue
There are some simple lifestyle changes and techniques that you can incorporate to reduce the severity of fatigue during menopause. Here are some:
1. Exercise Daily:
Move? When I’m already tired? That’s probably the question that popped into your head. Well, exercises can help you get back that energy you’ve lost. We aren’t talking about strenuous exercise; a small move can do the magic.
A daily yoga routine, short morning walk, or jog can help you feel alive and motivated. If you can, try some cardio workouts or lift some weights for added benefits. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise every day.
Exercise won’t only recoup energy and relieve fatigue but can also help manage other menopause symptoms like high blood pressure and weight gain.
2. Improve your Sleep Habits
One of the best ways to improve your rest habit is by maintaining a regular sleeping and waking schedule. Also, relax before bed – you can read a book, take a warm bath or listen to cool music.
However, avoid brain-stimulating activities like using a phone or watching television before sleeping. Also, consider making the room temperature cool to reduce overheating. Wear comfortable clothes and go to bed early. These are some of the habits that can promote sleep quality.
3. Try Meditation
It’s okay to feel overwhelmed at times. However, too much of that can lead to stress and exhaustion.
Since fatigue worsens during perimenopause, you should reduce anxiety and stress levels. One of the best ways to do that is by practicing mediation.
There are different forms of meditative techniques that you can practice, from Yoga to mindful meditation and Tai Chi.
4. Hormone Replacement Therapy
The main way to ease all menopause symptoms is hormone replacement therapy.
Menopause replacement therapy is the process of boosting lost hormones to relieve fatigue and other menopause symptoms.
This process can help you sleep more peacefully and reduce sleep apnea or menopausal weight, which will, in turn, reduce fatigue.
There are two types of hormone replacement therapy: estrogen replacement therapy and estrogen/progestin replacement therapy. They come from pills, topicals, patches, and intrauterine.
Like any other form of treatment, hormone replacement therapy has some side effects. They include; retention of fluid, bleeding, migraines, frequent mood swings, nausea, and bloating.
Consider talking to your healthcare provider before you start hormone replacement therapy.
Fatigue is a common symptom that women experience during perimenopause and postmenopausal. Several factors cause it, but the main ones are changes in hormone levels and lack of sleep.
Taking the required vitamins and supplements, exercising regularly, and having a good diet can help reduce fatigue. Hormone replacement therapy can also help reduce hot flashes, night sweats, and other menopause symptoms that can trigger fatigue.
If you’re experiencing chronic fatigue during menopause and tried the above remedies, but they didn’t work, consider talking to your doctor. This is because your fatigue might be a result of some health conditions.