Menopause is an experience shared by all women that is often dreaded long before it begins, which is usually between the ages of 45 and 55. A host of symptoms are commonly experienced by women during this period, from hot flushes to vaginal dryness and trouble sleeping.
However, there are a number of options available for managing the symptoms that can come with menopause, including bio-identical hormone replacement therapy. Using Vitamin K as a complementary mode of treatment to proven medical treatments has been said to assist with curbing hot flushes and other menopause symptoms. Let’s take a look at menopause itself and how Vitamin K may help.
What is menopause?
Usually beginning around the age of 45, menopause refers to the ceasing of a woman’s menstrual cycle, and in turn, fertility. When this begins – referred to as ‘perimenopause’ – monthly periods occur less frequently and the ovaries stop producing female sex hormones, oestrogen and progesterone. This change in hormonal levels will result in a variety of symptoms that are often uncomfortable to experience. The most common symptoms of menopause are hot flushes, mood swings, irritability, affected sleep, trouble concentrating, headaches, weight gain and more.
What is Vitamin K?
Vitamin K is a vitamin essential to maintaining a person’s overall health and wellbeing. It is most frequently associated with benefiting heart health, and improving bone density and oral health, as well as reducing the risk of cell mutations and infection rates.
Vitamin K works to reduce bleeding problems by improving clotting protein levels. Further to this, Vitamin K helps to promote a bonding of calcium to the body and increases the body’s ability to absorb and utilise calcium.
According to research, the most important form of Vitamin K for bone health is Vitamin K2. The relationship between Vitamin K2 and bone health has been examined closely with a number of trials carried out to investigate how vitamin K2 supplements may improve bone health in some people. At the centre of this research has been a focus on women who have experienced menopause. Women that have experienced menopause are most at risk of developing osteoporosis and suffering bone fractures.
We know that Vitamin K is integral for many biological functions in the body, including the maintenance of one’s skeleton. However, less research exists on the role of vitamin K in bone health than what exists on that of calcium and vitamin D. Research that does exist tells us that a Vitamin K deficiency can lead to weaker bones and an increased risk of fractures.
Vitamin K2 supplements can:
- Effectively slow down the rate of bone weakening after menopause
- Increase bone strength and has the potential to decrease the number of fractures in women with osteoporosis
How effective is Vitamin K at relieving menopause symptoms?
Vitamin K shouldn’t necessarily be regarded as a magic pill that will completely relieve hot flushes and other menopause symptoms. However, solid research exists that confirms that by ensuring an intake of adequate levels of Vitamin K can have a positive impact on the overall health and wellbeing of women during this period. It will serve to reduce the intensity of the night sweats and disturbed sleep experienced by so many women.
Bones naturally begin to weaken naturally with age, and evidence suggests that it becomes more and more important to ensure that the right amount of vitamin K2 is consumed. While Vitamin K does have the capacity to relieve menopause symptoms, it is important to bear in mind that, as with calcium and vitamin D supplements, increasing vitamin K2 levels alone cannot reverse the effects of osteoporosis. Vitamin K2 will improve bone strength, however, it is not yet known whether this leads to a reduction in the risk of fractures.
How do I increase my Vitamin K levels during menopause?
The simplest and most effective way to consume enough vitamins and minerals is from your diet. Vitamin K2 is found in meat, eggs and dairy foods, particularly in fermented products including cheese and yoghurt (which also provide the benefit of being calcium rich). A rich source of Vitamin K2 is in a Japanese fermented soybean product known as natto. Reaching the daily target intake of 180 mcg/day is difficult and will require supplementation if natto is not being consumed. Nearing menopause, women should increase their intake of both plant-derived vitamin K1 known as (phylloquinone) as well as sources of Vitamin K2.
In the case of consuming Vitamin K2 supplements, a doctor should always be consulted. They are safe for consumption for most people, however, those taking blood-thinning drugs are not advised to consume Vitamin K2 in this way.
Assessing your Vitamin K2 needs
The need for Vitamin K increases exponentially as a woman enters perimenopause at around 45 years of age. While Vitamin K is not a miracle fix-all for menopause symptoms, it can be a beneficial nutrient during this transition.