Vitamin D & Menopause: Put a Lil’ Sunshine in Your Life
Here comes the sun…doo dooo, doo doo. Okay, depending on where you live, this may not be happening anytime soon.
If the sunlight is scarce or it’s too cold to go outside in your neck of the woods, you might not be getting enough vitamin D. Unfortunately, rates of vitamin D deficiency are particularly high amongst post-menopausal women. What’s the big deal, right? Well, not only does vitamin D play a critical role in the absorption of calcium, low levels of it have been associated with an increased risk of osteoporosis, diabetes, and breast cancer, as well as lower cognitive functioning and slower information processing speed. Yikes! We’d say that’s a pretty big deal.
Lengthy sunbathing is frowned upon for a variety of reasons (for example, skin cancer and, eh hem, wrinkles) and anyway, who really wants to get into a bikini? But the problem is that our major source of vitamin D is from sunlight on exposed skin – skin without sunscreen. It’s recommended that we be out in the sun for at least 15 minutes, three to four times a week. If you can’t get this much sunlight, vitamin D is also available in some fish such as salmon, herring, sardines and tuna.
As mentioned in Science Daily (1/10/12) low vitamin D levels are so prevalent in Europe (50 to 70% of the population) that the European Menopause and Andropause Society (EMAS) has recommended that post-menopausal women take supplements. They’re so concerned about this vitamin D deficiency epidemic that they’re calling upon the World Health Organization (WHO) to address the issue.
Here, closer to home, the North American Menopause Society recommends a daily intake of 800-1,000 IU either through 15 minutes of sun exposure daily (again, without a sunscreen), diet, or supplementation. So if the sun is shining – get out there and enjoy it. It’s good for you…and your mind!