The sunshine vitamin – Vitamin D – essential before, during and after the Menopause.

Ok so what is all the fuss about ?

Just a quick post about Vitamin D commonly referred to as the sunshine vitamin – most people should be able to get all the vitamin D they need from sunlight ( oh ha ha on this lovely wet June day – unbelievable isn’t it, how on earth are we meant to even remotely get enough vitamin D I ask ! ) The body creates Vitamin D on the skin when outdoors so, from say late March to the end of September, if we spend plenty of time outdoors we should get enough, but between October and early March we should be thinking about supplements or increasing our dietary intake as we just don’t get enough vitamin D from sunlight …. unless of course you are one of the lucky few that holidays abroad in those months!

Why should we be bothered – well vitamin D is essential for helping to regulate calcium and phosphate in the body which in turn leads to healthy bones, teeth and muscles. The most recent research reckons that we are more likely to be deficient in Vitamin D than calcium. In extreme cases lack of vitamin D can lead to bone deformities like rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults ( which in laymans terms means fragility of bones and muscle weakness ) . It is also essential in maintaining bone health to help reduce the likelihood of developing osteoporosis and so the risk of fractures later in life, around the time of the menopause.

So, if like me, you swathe your body in layers of jumpers, coats, scarfs and anything else I can lay my hands on during the winter months plus, where or where is the sun – then it might be a good idea to up your intake of foods rich in Vitamin D – these include:-

  • oily fish – salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel and fresh tuna ( note fresh that good old tinned stuff doesn’t quite hit the mark ! )
  • red meat
  • liver – I know but needs must!
  • egg yolks
  • fortified foods such as breakfast cereals – read labels

But, you can also think about taking a supplement. You can buy vitamin D in liquid form or tablet/gel form and the recommended daily supplement is 10mcg ( microgram ) however you will often find vitamin D measured in IUs ( international unit ) 10mcg = 400IU. If you are interested in the IUs and mcgs of this world then I have added the scientific explanation below! *
( Some people might be tempted by a supplement which combines vitamin D and calcium – a little warning – ‘supplements containing vitamin D and calcium may be harder to swallow and cause side effects such as constipation.’ …. mmm something to consider?! )

So how does this all link into the menopause – well oestrogen helps to conserve bone and absorb calcium, with declining levels of oestrogen, which cause all the menopausal symptoms, it makes it even more important to make sure that you have enough vitamin D in your diet to counteract those declining levels.

All about getting that balance right ladies – get your hormones balanced again, get your diet sorted out, get your exercise organised, cut down on all those things you know you should be cutting down on ( oh yes you do know ! ) and your body will love you !


*Science info!

*IU” stands for International Unit. It is a unit of measure, but one that is very different than what we are accustomed to seeing on labels, such as the milligram (mg) or microgram (mcg).  The mg and mcg units depict an amount based on mass or volume, something that we can literally see or feel. However, the IU measurement describes something that we cannot see; the potency, or biological activity of a product. This is particularly helpful to pharmacologists when products have more than one form, such is the case with vitamin D. Vitamin D has two different forms that are found in supplements: vitamin D2, also known as ergocalciferol and vitamin D3, cholecalciferol. Each of these has a different biological activity or potency, so scientists need a reliable way to compare the potency of these two vitamins. Measuring vitamin D in IUs gives scientist a way to compare apples to apples.
The idea of using IUs to standardize the reporting of vitamin D potency was first established by the World Health Organization in 1931 using vitamin D2. Once vitamin D3 could be made by scientists, the IU recommendation was changed to be based off vitamin D3 in 1949. Today, many countries still use the IU to measure vitamin D; 1 IU of vitamin D is equivalent to 0.025 micrograms (abbreviated as either mcg or μg) of cholecalciferol or ergocalciferol.1 Conversely, 1 microgram of vitamin D equals 40 IU of vitamin D.

You can use the following to convert vitamin D:
From IU to mcg: IU/40 = mcg
For example: 400 IU/40 = 10 mcg
From mcg to IU: mcg * 40 =IU