A Guide to 7 Common Menopause Supplements

Medically Reviewed By Jerlyn Jones, MS MPA RDN LD CLT

Some supplements may have protective health effects and reduce menopausal symptoms. These can include calcium, phytoestrogens, and black cohosh. However, research into some of these supplements often has mixed results. Menopause leads to a variety of physical and psychological changes. People experiencing menopause may experience hot flashes, mood changes, and thinning bones. Supplements are often mentioned as a natural way to counteract these signs and symptoms. However, the research behind them isn’t always clear.

Always talk with your doctor before adding any supplements to your diet.

Read on to learn more about menopause supplements, including their potential benefits and risks.

Sex and gender exist on a spectrum. This article uses the term “female” to refer to a person’s sex that was assigned at birth.

Learn more about the difference between sex and gender.

1. Calcium

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During menopause, hormonal changes can lead Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source to osteoporosis. This is a loss of bone density that makes bones more fragile.

Calcium plays a key role in bone formation. Research from 2020 Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source found that calcium supplements may help slow the rate of bone density loss. However, the authors also found that calcium supplementation was not associated with a lower risk of fractures.

Dietary guidelines from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommend 1,200 milligrams (mg) Trusted Source National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements Governmental authority Go to source of calcium daily for females over 50. If you choose to take calcium supplements, taking them with food can help your body absorb the calcium more effectively.

It’s also important to note that taking too much calcium may lead to signs and symptoms such as:

  • nausea
  • fatigue
  • irregular heartbeats

More than 2,000 mg a day is considered too much calcium.

Excessive calcium intake may also increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Learn more about 10 foods high in calcium.

2. Vitamin D

Vitamin D also contributes to bone health and is important for preserving muscle strength.

Similar to calcium, evidence is mixed Trusted Source National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements Governmental authority Go to source as to whether supplemental vitamin D can help prevent osteoporosis or bone fractures. Opinions Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source on the recommended daily vitamin D intake can vary. However, current dietary guidelines recommend 15 micrograms (mcg) daily for females over 50.

It can be difficult to get sufficient amounts of vitamin D from food. Although sunlight stimulates your body’s production of vitamin D, too much has its own risks.

Supplements can ensure that you get adequate amounts of vitamin D. Although, taking too much, or more than 100 mcg a day, can be toxic. Vitamin D can also interact with certain statins and steroids, among other medications.

Learn more about 8 health dangers of low vitamin D levels.

3. Phytoestrogens

Phytoestrogens contain compounds called isoflavones and are derived from plants. They have some similarities to estrogen Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source , the hormone that the body produces less of during menopause.

Supplements containing phytoestrogens are thought to reduce symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes and night sweats. These are known as vasomotor symptoms. However, evidence is mixed Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source as to whether they are effective.

Some common examples of phytoestrogens include:

  • red clover
  • soy
  • valerian root
  • evening primrose oil

Phytoestrogen supplements are generally regarded as safe when taken in recommended or moderate amounts. However, if you are unable to take estrogen, talk with your doctor before starting any phytoestrogen supplements.

Learn more about how to increase estrogen naturally.

4. Ginseng

There are several types of ginseng. Supplements associated with relieving menopausal symptoms are made with Asian or Korean ginseng. This type is an adaptogen, which is a substance that may help the body handle stress and fatigue.

Some evidence suggests that ginseng can help reduce hot flashes. It may also help with quality of life concerns, such as depression. However, the evidence does not indicate that ginseng helps with vaginal dryness. This is another menopausal symptom, which can interfere with sexual activity.

Ginseng can also cause side effects, such as:

Learn more about menopause, your hormones, and hot flashes.

5. Black cohosh

Black cohosh is an herb that is also commonly used as a supplement for menopausal symptoms.

Black cohosh may be safe and effective when taken at the recommended dosage of 40 mg per day. This is according to a 2022 statement from the Spanish Menopause Society Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source .

There have been some reports of liver damage Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source in people who have taken black cohosh. However, it’s unclear whether this was caused by the herb itself or by contamination from other ingredients.

Learn more about when you should take black cohosh.

6. Dong quai

Dong quai is an herb related to carrots and parsley. It has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat menopausal symptoms.

Research on dong quai is limited and often older. As a result, not much is known about its effectiveness for symptoms such as hot flashes. It’s also not clear Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source whether dong quai can mimic the effects of estrogen.

Side effects may include an increased risk of bleeding, sensitivity to sunlight, and bloating or gas.

More research is necessary to determine whether dong quai may benefit people experiencing menopause.

Learn more about 7 natural ways to relieve hot flashes.

7. St. John’s wort

St. John’s wort is a supplement often used to improve mood and address sleep disturbances. Like many other supplements, studies into the potential benefits of St. John’s wort have had mixed results Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) Trusted Source National Cancer Institute Governmental authority Go to source , St. John’s wort can have dangerous and even life threatening interactions with certain medications. These include antidepressants that increase serotonin levels.

It may also weaken the effects of some medications, including:

  • some cancer therapies
  • heart medications
  • blood thinners
  • birth control pills
  • HIV medications

Possible side effects include:

Learn more about 6 symptoms to never ignore during menopause.

Always talk with your doctor before adding any supplements to your diet.

Summary

People commonly use supplements to help reduce menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats. However, studies into their potential benefits often have mixed results.

If you are experiencing menopausal symptoms, talk with your doctor or gynecologist before starting any supplements. Some can interact with other medications or are not recommended for people with certain underlying conditions.

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Medical Reviewer: Jerlyn Jones, MS MPA RDN LD CLT
Last Review Date: 2023 Jul 1
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