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Menopausal Nutrition
For Hikers Of A Certain Age

Menopausal nutrition for hikers is a vast, deep subject.

And I'm not qualified to give expert advice.

But I do have access to lots of scientific journals and human biology textbooks, so I've done a lot of reading on this subject.

And, I've been through it and am here to tell you it's survivable.

Hiking during menopause has it's advantages! (no need for a down vest, for instance)

What motivates me to share this information is my desire for you to remain strong and active well into "old age" - define that with any number you wish, but for me, it's somewhere approaching triple digits (!!).

Let me share a few things I've gleaned about menopausal nutrition (and postmenopausal nutrition) for hiking women.

Calcium's role in
menopausal nutrition

Calcium is a big deal for older hiking females.

Osteoporosis can rob a menopausal hiker's bones of strength and resilience.

  • "Porous" means filled with holes, right? Great for lightweight bird bones, but definitely not what we want in our weight bearing bones in the pelvis and spinal column.

Calcium can enter your body in two ways: diet and supplements.

Either way, it's useful if it's together with another mineral, magnesium (discussed below).

Dietary sources of calcium include

  • anything containing cow milk (dairy foods such as cheese, ice cream, and yogurt),
  • calcium-fortified foods such as fruit juices and soy, canned fish with bones, and
  • some* green leafy vegetables you'd put into a salad.

So if you've never been a "salad" person, it might be time to switch from soup to salad for dinner.

*Except for a few cautions: spinach can actually deplete your calcium levels, as can coffee and some beans if they haven't been properly prepared. Normal intake levels shouldn't pose a problem, though.

Calcium supplements come in various forms of calcium salts:

  • carbonate,
  • citrate, and
  • malate.

Talk with your health care provider about which choice is best for you.

Various factors in the decision might be:

  • how much stomach acid you produce,
  • your gastrointestinal function,
  • how much serum (bloodstream) calcium you have,
  • whether you suffer from constipation,
  • whether you are taking "bone medications" or antibiotics, and
  •  whether you can swallow some of the really large tablets, or would prefer a dissolvable supplement.
Another thought: Buy calcium supplements from a reputable source. You don't want your calcium contaminated with metals such as lead.

And speaking of the safety of calcium supplementation, check out this recently released science.

It's actually a "study of studies", pooling information from many studies (meta-analysis) in an attempt to answer the question: Is there an association between calcium supplements and increased risk of cardiovascular disease?

The answer to the question: Perhaps.

You can read the entire article here.

Speaking strictly for myself, I think it's a cautionary note for women who are at risk for cardiovascular disease to avoid supplementation, in favor of daily calcium through dietary sources.

There might be a detrimental effect on blood vessels if the calcium concentration in the watery part of the blood (plasma) shoots up quickly, post ingestion of a supplement.

More gradual blood calcium levels are achieved by chewing, swallowing, and digesting the calcium rich foods mentioned above, and that appears to be a better scenario for the cardiovascular system.

Makes sense, right? Mother Nature has it figured out!

One more quick little calcium fact.

If you're raising children or grandchildren, be aware that they are accumulating calcium in their bone matrix up until the age of 18 years of so.

  • Be sure you give your hikers-in-training plenty of opportunities to store calcium!
  • Female children in particular need to deposit lots of calcium in their "bone bank", against the withdrawals they will make during future pregnancies and their own eventual menopause.

The importance of magnesium for menopausal hikers

Menopausal nutrition for hikers should also include this mineral, because magnesium is vital for proper muscle and nervous system functions.

Hikers need to protect these functions, because that's where we get our strength, endurance, coordination, adequate energy levels, and balance.

The good news about magnesium is that it's easy to get in a normal diet.

What to eat during menopause to ensure you're getting enough magnesium:

  • whole grains,
  • good quality raw nuts,
  • beans,
  • fish,
  • meat, and
  • dark green vegetables.

These foods should be the backbone of your menopausal nutrition.

If you're taking a calcium supplement, this may increase your need for magnesium.

  • Watch out for muscle cramping, fatigue, mood changes such as irritability, or brain fog.
  • Soaking in an Epsom salt foot bath is a quick way to get magnesium sulfate into your muscles.

Magnesium supplementation (over and above what you are getting in your food) has been correlated with increased bone mineral density in post-menopausal women, possibly because it prevents the bone matrix from being turned over quickly. Something worth talking to your health care provider about!

As is true for calcium, magnesium comes in various forms:

  • oxide,
  • hydroxide,
  • chloride,
  • lactate,
  • glycinate

Talk with your health care provider about this, because the choice you make depends upon your symptoms and baseline, as well as any medical conditions or medications.

Hiker at the edge of a mountain lake, gazing upward at the peaksMenopausal nutrition for hikers: an insurance policy to keep you hiking to fantastic places like the Canadian Rockies!

Menopausal nutrition: Potassium

Here's another interesting component of menopausal nutrition.

Just like calcium and magnesium, potassium is a small charged particle (ion) which is used to accomplish many jobs inside your cells.

Chances are, you are getting enough of this nutrient in your food if you are eating meat, fruit, and vegetables.

Muscle weakness and fatigue may indicate a lack of potassium, important considerations for menopausal hikers.

This is especially true if you've been sweating a lot on the trail, or have had a recent bout of vomiting and/or diarrhea (fluid losses).

Ways to sneak in potassium:

  • Eat a banana at the trail head before lacing up your boots.
  • Mix unsulfured dried apricots and figs into your trail mix.
  • Enjoy a luscious slice of cantaloupe after your hike.
  • And you can double dip with dairy foods, because they give you calcium and potassium.

Fiber - really??

Not having enough fiber in your diet sets you up for all sorts of nastiness.

  • Diverticulosis, a weakening of the muscular walls of the colon, can become an inflammation called diverticulitis.
  • Straining during bowel movements to expel hardened stool can create hemorrhoids.

Just two examples of why eating plant based fiber rich foods are important as we age.

Does your daily diet include these?

  • Lentils
  • Quinoa
  • Flax
  • Garbanzo beans

If these foods are unappealing, perhaps you'd rather get your fiber via a powder that can be added to your daily routine,.

Good menopausal nutrition
is well worth your time

Take the time to eat well, and your body will be ready to take you up and down the trail as you watch the years roll by.

Thanks for visiting!

And happy "prime of life" hiking.

It's a blast!!

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Menopausal Nutrition For Hikers

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