Approximately 1 in 5 people in the UK have low levels of vitamin D and many people are considered deficient. If you are peri-menopausal, dark skinned, overweight and/or have a gastrointestinal condition such as Chrohn’s and coeliac disease your risk of vitamin D deficiency is even greater.
We make vitamin D in our body through exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet B rays. However, in the UK, the sun is only strong enough during April to September but even then this will depend on the time of day, altitude, cloud cover, pollution, clothing and sunscreen use, all of which reduce exposure to UV rays.
Even a healthy, balanced diet is unlikely to provide enough vitamin D, because foods rich in vitamin D are limited – the best sources are oily fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, etc. and there are small amounts of vitamin D in beef, liver, cheese and egg yolks. Some foods have been fortified with vitamin D such as some breakfast cereals, milk and orange juice.
Supplementation may be the best way to obtain adequate levels of vitamin D. This should be done alongside a balanced, nutrient dense diet because vitamin D works synergistically with other nutrients. Vitamin D is fat-soluble, requiring fat for its absorption and it works collaboratively with the other fat-soluble vitamins so I recommend taking a supplement that contains all fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K as well as ensuring you include some healthy omega fats in your diet from fish, nuts, seeds, etc. Another consideration is making sure you are supplementing the bioavailable (more useable) form of vitamin D, which is D3.
It is a good idea to test your vitamin D levels before supplementing to ensure you supplement the right dosage for your requirements. You can get tested via your GP or through a private healthcare practitioner, such as a Nutritional Therapist. If you have sub-optimal levels, I recommend you supplement for 3 months and then get retested. It may be that you only need to supplement during the winter months.
There are vitamin D receptors present throughout the whole body, which is an indication of its importance to our health. Vitamin D is particularly important for our bones, immune system, digestion and brain (mood and depression). Vitamin D is particularly important to female health because of its close working relationship with oestrogen. Vitamin D is present at oestrogen receptor sites helping to activate oestrogen. Without sufficient vitamin D women are at risk of suffering low oestrogen. Add to that the fact that ageing decreases the skin’s capacity to make vitamin D, it makes sense that supplementation of vitamin D may be beneficial during peri-menopause when oestrogen levels are naturally declining.
In support of supplementation, several studies suggest that adequate levels of vitamin D may help to reduce menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, sleep disturbance and poor concentration.
Furthermore, vitamin D deficiency has been linked with low mood, which can be exacerbated during peri-menopause. Studies have shown that serotonin, the brain hormone associated with mood elevation, rises with exposure to bright light and falls with decreased sun exposure.
In conclusion, optimal vitamin D levels are vital to our health and even more so when oestrogen levels are dipping in the lead up to menopause.
If you would like more information about the benefits of vitamin D supplementation for hormonal health; if you are concerned about talking supplements for hormone balance or have any questions, please give me a call for a no obligation chat on 07747 780035 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.