Vitamin D - known as the "sunshine" vitamin is extremely essential for menopausal women. However, to be honest, it's not just limited to menopausal women. Once, you're a woman in your 30s, 40s or, 50s - it's time for you to seriously think about vitamin D.
Various studies and clinical studies have linked vitamin D to preventing - heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, cancer, and weight gain.
There are two main causes:
Estrogen is key for the production & effectiveness of vitamin D. It increases the activity of the enzyme responsible for activating vitamin D.
So, naturally during peri, post & menopause - with the declining levels of estrogen - we succumb to various symptoms of vitamin D deficiencies.
What's worse? Clinical studies & trials have shown that lack in vitamin D increases various menopausal symptoms.
Vitamin D deficiency (hypovitaminosis D) is an increasingly common condition among people of all ages, but older adults are at increased risk.
As they spend the majority of their time indoors, older adults get minimal exposure to natural sunlight.
Additionally, as skin thins with age, vitamin D synthesis becomes much less efficient. Reduced appetite and impaired absorption of nutrients further compound this problem for seniors.
Vitamin D deficiency comes with a long list of symptoms. However, the most common ones amongst menopausal women are:
... and these are just a few!
Still not convinced?
Here are 8 reasons why you need a source of vitamin D in your diets ASAP:
Vitamin D is famous for its bone-building and strengthening powers.
It promotes absorption of calcium in your gut, which helps manage bone growth.
You need vitamin D for bone growth—and to prevent bones from becoming brittle.
When teamed with calcium, it can help prevent osteoporosis, a disease that most aging and menopausal women have to deal with.
Along with its bone-building abilities, vitamin D is also influential in strengthening muscles.
Lack of vitamin D in the body can increase the risk of having weak muscles, which in turn increases the risk of falls.
This is especially important for aging women, as vitamin D may help increase muscle strength thus preventing falls.
Vitamin D can support the immune system by fighting off harmful bacteria and viruses
A 2017 British Medical Journal analysis of 25 randomized participants found that vitamin D reduced the risk of acute respiratory infection with either daily or weekly vitamin D supplementation, particularly in individuals who were deficient in it.
Because vitamin D helps our body absorb calcium, it plays a crucial role in supporting oral health, lowering the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
A 2011 review in The Journal of the Tennessee Dental Association notes that the vitamin is beneficial for oral health, due to its effect on bone metabolism and "its ability to function as an anti-inflammatory agent and stimulate the production of antimicrobial peptides."
Vitamin D can help prevent Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
While studies are not conclusive, vitamin D may be helpful for preventing both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
One such study, published in 2006 in the journal Diabetes Care, found that while vitamin D on its own did not effectively lower the risk of an overabundance of sugar in the blood, a combined daily intake of >1,200 mg calcium and >800 IU vitamin D could effectively lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.
According to a 2019 review published in the journal Current Protein & Peptide Science suggests that vitamin D may play a role in treatment of high blood pressure.
According to authors of the review, even short-term vitamin D deficiency may directly raise BP [blood pressure], which can be dangerous for people getting on in age.
Low vitamin D levels might cause weight gain.
Which only means more vitamin D may help with weight loss.
One 2009 study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that, in overweight or obese women with low calcium levels, those who took a daily dose of calcium paired with vitamin D were more successful shedding pounds than those who took a placebo supplement, due to an “appetite-suppressing effect” of the combination.
The sun can brighten up your mood, and so can vitamin D.
According to a 2017 review article in the journal Neuropsychology, researchers found a significant relationship between depression and vitamin D deficiency.
This is the perfect solution for the many mood swings menopausal women experience on a daily basis.
This might be alarming for many women. However, fret not! There are natural and effective ways to boost our vitamin D levels.
So, what can you do to make sure that you actually get enough vitamin D whilst you're in menopause?
The best way to get it is through sunlight.
However, how can we spend hours sun bathing without sun screen. It might harm our skin and we are already suffering from dry skin during menopause.
So, here are a few tips you can use today!
Eating oily fishes like - salmon, sardines - twice a week will not just boost your vitamin D levels but it has great amount of calcium as well.
You can also look at foods that are actually fortified with vitamin D, like - cereal, wheat, butter, almond milk, soya milk and more - readily available in your grocery store.
However, if you're vegetarian or vegan...
Mushrooms are one of the only plant sources that contain a significant amount of vitamin D.
Like humans, mushrooms can make their own vitamin D upon exposure to UV light.
Due to their exposure to sunlight, wild mushrooms usually have more vitamin D than commercially grown types. However, you can also purchase mushrooms treated with UV light.
For many people, taking a vitamin D supplement may be the best way to ensure adequate intake.
But be careful!
It’s best to choose supplements tested for purity and quality by a third party, such as the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), Informed-Choice, , or the Banned Substances Control Group (BSCG).
Lamps that emit UV-B radiation may also boost your vitamin D levels, though these lamps can be costly.
When your skin is exposed to UV-B radiation from the sun, it’s able to produce its own vitamin D. UV lamps mimic the action of the sun and can be especially helpful if your sun exposure is limited due to geography or time indoors.
So, now with these tips in place - you might be wondering...
Vitamin D supplements vary in dosage. That said, the amount you need depends on your current vitamin D levels.
For most people, 1,000–4,000 IU is considered a safe daily dose to maintain healthy levels of vitamin D.
However, you may need a much larger dose in certain circumstances — and especially if your current levels are very low or you have limited exposure to sunshine.
For this reason, it’s ideal to have your vitamin D levels tested by your medical professional to ensure you’re taking the most appropriate dose.
PS. As women age, they not only have to deal with estrogen levels declining, but also declining vitamin D levels.
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