How much do you know about the changes that take place in your body in the lead up to menopause?

You may or may not know that this is a time when your estrogen levels begin to surge and plummet for a while before they begin their permanent decline. As you get closer to menopause, this decrease in estrogen speeds up. It’s part of what drives some of the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause such as hot flushes, insomnia and vaginal dryness.

Something you may not realise is that cholesterol plays a key role in the production of our hormones. A series of biochemical reactions converts cholesterol into progesterone, estrogen, testosterone and cortisol.

But in order for cholesterol to be efficiently converted into a hormone it requires zinc.

And, since zinc is not readily available in a wide variety of foods these days, too many people are deficient in this vital nutrient.

If we don’t have optimal levels of zinc, the conversion of cholesterol into hormones can’t occur efficiently. When combined with the body’s decreased need for estrogen during perimenopause and into the post-menopause years, you will often begin to see cholesterol levels rise.

To ensure your body is able to efficiently convert cholesterol into hormones, you want to make sure your intake of zinc is optimum. This can be challenging for people today as zinc was once found in a wide range of foods (such as fruits, vegetables, breads and cereals) since it was abundant in our soils.

Today, our soils are mostly depleted of zinc so it’s much more difficult to obtain sufficient amounts to avoid deficiency simply from food alone. Foods such as oysters, red meat, eggs and sunflower seeds contain zinc but you would need to consume an awful lot on a regular basis to get the amount your body requires.  Therefore supplementation of zinc may be necessary in conjunction with a nutritious way of eating.

However you choose to support your body through this transition, we hope that you are able to do so with the utmost care and an even greater appreciation of your precious self.