The role of diet in managing menopausal symptoms: A narrative review

Nutr Bull. 2023 Mar;48(1):43-65. doi: 10.1111/nbu.12607. Epub 2023 Feb 15.


Menopause is a natural stage that occurs when women stop menstruating, during which many women experience physical and psychological symptoms that can affect their quality of life and ability to work. Dietary modifications and food supplements may be explored by some women as alternatives to hormone replacement therapy, although existing reviews and expert position statements have given this limited consideration. This narrative review summarises the current evidence for dietary patterns, and botanical and food supplements, in the management of common menopausal symptoms, including vasomotor symptoms (VMS; hot flushes; night sweats), changes in bodyweight and composition, psychological symptoms (depression; anxiety; cognitive changes), sleep disturbances, joint pain, skin changes and urogenital symptoms. Soy isoflavones may reduce the frequency and/or severity of VMS, although results are inconsistent, and it is unclear whether dietary and supplemental sources have comparable effects. Adopting a healthier dietary pattern may support a healthy bodyweight and benefit VMS. However, evidence suggesting dietary patterns may benefit depression, anxiety, and cognition remains largely observational. While some botanicals, such as black cohosh and St John's Wort, have been reported in some studies to alleviate symptoms (such as VMS and depression), these are not currently recommended due to uncertainty about the appropriate dose and preparation, and potential safety concerns. Evidence for other symptoms is currently too limited to draw conclusions. While further trials at different menopausal stages are needed, adopting a healthier dietary pattern in accordance with dietary guidelines is likely to help support women's health before, during and after the menopausal transition.

Keywords: diet; food supplements; menopausal symptoms; menopause; narrative review; nutrients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diet
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Hot Flashes / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Menopause*
  • Quality of Life*