Secrets of the sun: Vitamin D
Vitamin D wisdom – why we need to (test and) supplement, especially in perimenopause
It’s been 100 years since the groundbreaking connection between sunlight and vitamin D. It’s like discovering a secret well-being code the sun has been whispering to our bodies for eons.
It is estimated that about a quarter of all adults in the UK do not get enough vitamin D. Critically for women, vitamin D may also play a role in moderating several perimenopause and menopause symptoms. Perimenopause is often associated with vitamin/ mineral deficiencies and vitamin D is no different.
What does Vitamin D do?
Vitamin D operates more like a hormone and is naturally created in the body from cholesterol upon sun exposure, earning it the moniker ‘sunshine vitamin.’ As a fat-soluble vitamin, it can be stored in the body for an extended duration, with vitamin D3 being the more efficacious form for elevating blood vitamin D levels.
Its primary impact on cells centers around bone health, facilitating the absorption of calcium and phosphorus from the gut to maintain the strength and health of muscles, teeth, and bones. Some studies have shown vitamin D can help stabilise your mood and emotions and moods and it is widely considered to be the most important vitamin for menopausal women.
Dietary dilemma: Sunlight alone isn’t enough
Now, here’s the downer: our diets aren’t exactly teeming with vitamin D. Dietary sources won’t provide adequate amounts and a more effective way for your body to produce vitamin D is by exposing your skin to sun, or supplementing. So, while soaking up some sun is a good start, it’s not the whole story. Even from April to October in the UK, you will only get enough with bare arms and legs, wearing no sunscreen at midday for an hour in full sun…. Phew! I need a lie down even thinking of that much heat and sun in this cold rain.
Cue the need for supplements for anyone who lives in the UK, and also especially mums-to-be, tiny tots, those with darker skin tones, the elderly, and those juggling certain medications.
The best dietary sources of vitamin D are oily fish (such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel), red meat, liver, egg yolks, and fortified foods (such as some fat spreads and breakfast cereals). If you are vegan, there are also soy and almond milks and yoghurts, chanterelle, shiitake or other ‘vitamin D’ mushrooms (which have been left in the sun for a few hours).
Test and see – Why take vitamin D
Now here’s a secret weapon to keep you thriving this winter (or in fact all year round)… Take some vitamin D. It’s essential for:
- maintaining energy levels – being superhuman takes on a whole new level come December!
- a resilient immune system, enabling you to get over ‘what’s going around’ much quicker to enjoy all the fun festivities.
- improves your mood as the days get darker and shorter
- strong bones – essential during perimenopause and into menopause.
- you just don’t get enough from being in the sun, even on a sunny day in the UK.
Why get your vitamin D tested with me
- No guesswork: you can’t know what your current levels are without testing.
- Tailored supplementation. One size does not fit all. Find out how to supplement based on your health needs.
- Quality matters. Not all supplements are created equal, or even of vaguely decent quality. Avoid having expensive wee|! If they are:
- low/ inadequate dose
- poor quality
- lacking nutrients necessary for absorption and utilisation (known as cofactors)
The £5 gift to boost your wellbeing
Feeling intrigued? Ready to take charge of your health this winter? Here’s a little gift for you – £5 off as an introductory offer. Just email me, and I’ll share how to grab this deal. Plus, I use a nationwide service, so wherever you are, you can give yourself the gift of health testing.
For those who like to know, it’s £55 in total, including your £5 gift – £31 for the test and the remainder for my personalised assessment and recommendations.
The Goldilocks zone of Vitamin D
Below 29nmol/l? That’s the deficiency alarm, but you may well be told that ‘your bloods are fine’. But Goldilock’s optimal level is around 125nmol/L. Anyone with an autoimmune disease (think coeliac, rheumatoid arthritis and many many more) needs to think higher though, much much higher.
Strong bones in perimenopause
Adequate vitamin D is crucial for bone health, aiding calcium absorption to strengthen bones and enhance arm and leg power. In your late thirties, natural bone density decline begins, making bones weaker and more prone to fractures.
Women, especially during menopause, face accelerated bone breakdown due to estrogen decline. Vitamin D is essential during this period to minimise bone density loss and promote calcium and phosphorus absorption for new tissue growth. Regular weight-bearing exercise is vital to reduce bone injury risk. Osteoporosis, characterized by severe bone weakening, increases fracture susceptibility even from minor incidents for those affected.
Sure, we all know vitamin D is a rockstar for bones and teeth. But guess what? It moonlights as a superhero with a cape, tackling a whole bunch of other health stuff. From being the sunshine bouncer for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) to potentially waving away the blues in adults, this vitamin wears many capes.
Reducing Diabetes risk
Vitamin D plays a role in insulin regulation – another thing that oestrogen affects and can be more difficult in perimenopause and beyond. Numerous studies indicate a heightened risk of type 2 diabetes in individuals with low vitamin D levels. Supplementing with vitamin D may help lowering blood sugar in those with type 2 diabetes, potentially mitigating the progression of pre-diabetes (elevated blood glucose levels) into full-fledged diabetes.
COVID-19 chronicles: Vitamin D’s immune potency
Research shows a connection between its deficiency and how severe your COVID-19 – or indeed any viral – infection can get. Vitamin D3 (yes there is more than one type of vitamin D) acts as a true superhero, stepping up to the front line, balancing our immune system and gearing us up against viral invaders.