Vitamin D benefits for women are essential to women’s skeletal system and muscle mass. As you age, you need more vitamin D because the body starts losing “bone and muscle mass starting late 20s early 30s”. The impact of Vitamin D deficiency on women is more than men, studies proved, due to the related risk of osteoporosis and fractures that more women experience in later age than men.
“Our body produces vitamin D as a response to sun exposure. We may also boost vitamin D in our body through intake of certain foods or supplements”. This vitamin plays a vital role in calcium absorption, treatment of certain cancers, autoimmune disease, heart disease and infections”. According to research.
Therefore, “women in there 30s, 40s or 50s should start thinking about taking vitamin D”. Studies have linked vitamin D to support women during “menopause, diseases, osteoporosis, diabetes, cancer, and weight gain”.
Including, “vitamin D is a helper for absorbing calcium and building bones. In addition to many processes’ vitamin D is involved in to protect you from disease and health issues”.
Best source of vitamin D
Since “vitamin D is the only nutrient, our body produce when we are exposed to the sunlight, a high number of people may not get enough sunlight”. Says registered dietitian Anna Tayler.
In such cases, people should consume diet rich in vitamin D or include supplement intake with their daily diet. Most common food source high in vitamin D “according to nutrient food chart is”:
- Salmon, Canned tuna
- Herring and Sardines
- Cod and beef liver oil
- Egg yolks
- Fortified food
- fortified milk
- fortified cereals and juices
“You can often get the most of your vitamin D intake from sunlight exposure, as we mentioned. However, most people are still at risk of developing vitamin D deficiency, and many other people, cannot solely rely on sunlight exposure for vitamin D production”. Coupled with certain health issues such as lactose intolerant, some people may develop, it prevents them from being able to consume dairy products which are high in vitamin D.
What is vitamin D deficiency?
The deficiency of this nutrient is super high for many people around the world, especially those who live in colder climate where the exposure to the sunlight is limited.
In addition to people who wear “sunblock outside, spend great time indoors instead of outdoors, and eating western diet that’s low source in this vitamin”.
Vitamin D deficiency is very common. According to research, “over 41% in united states are vitamin D deficient, 70% for Hispanic adults and over 80% in African. It is extremely important nutrient that aid many functions in our body”.
“It functions like a hormone unlike other vitamins, which makes many cells in the body have a receptor for it. Therefore, we need to supplement our body with vitamin D to prevent deficiency in various cases according to research including;
- Skin pigmentation – “Absorbing sunlight is essential for the skin to produce vitamin D”.
- Sun exposure – “People who live in Northern Latitudes, work night shifts or are home-bound should take more vitamin D from food source or supplements”.
- Breastfeeding women –” breastfeeding women should take at least 400 IU of vitamin D per day, according to American Academy of Pediatric”.
- Older adults – “The skin’s ability to synthesize vitamin D with age. Older adults may also spend more time indoors”.
- People with conditions that limit fat absorption – “Vitamin D is fat-soluble, conditions that limit fat absorption can decrease vitamin D intake from the diet”.
- People with obesity – “High levels of body fat can limit the body’s ability to absorb vitamin D from the skin”.
- People following a gastric bypass – “This surgery bypasses a part of the upper intestine that absorbs large amounts of vitamin D. This bypass can cause a deficiency”.
Diseases caused by vitamin D deficiency
- bone loss – “Since vitamin D is critical for your body to be able to use calcium and build bone properly, women who are over 40 or who have risk factors forosteoporosis should be sure to get adequate amounts of vitamin D. The combination of calcium and vitamin D are a frontline prevention and treatment for maintaining bone strength”. According to Kate Bracy, NR, NP
- Risk of cancer – “Thousands of studies have shown an association between vitamin D and the prevention of nearly 30 types of cancer, especiallycolon, prostate, and breast cancers. An adequate vitamin D level comes from the association of vitamin D with not only reducing the risk of colon cancer but reducing malignant growth in cancers already present”. Bracy Says
- Depression – “Vitamin D has been shown to have a positive effect on low mood and cognitive performance. Since mood symptoms are common in the menopause years, anything that minimizes your mood troubles is worth your attention. If you suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and notice your mood being low during the winter season, you may want to boost your vitamin D intake during those darker months”. Bracy says
- Type 2 diabetes – “Adequate levels of vitamin D seem to have a strong association with your body’s ability to use insulin. Many studies have been done which have found that a low level of vitamin D results in a decrease in the release of insulin in the body, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes”. Bracy Says
- Cardiovascular disease – “When estrogen starts to decline, women begin to have the same risks for heart disease as men. Vitamin D plays a role in the prevention of heart disease, but the research is mixed on its value. While vitamin D deficiency does seem to be associated with cardiovascular disease, it’s not clear why this is so. Some studies have failed to connect supplementing with vitamin D to the improvement of cardiovascular risks”. Bracy says
- Weight gain – “For some reason, women who are overweight tend to have lower levels of vitamin D.It’s not known whether the low levels contribute to obesity or whether obesity lowers the levels, but the association exists. Anything that makes it easier to keep the weight off pays dividends in your overall health”. Bracy Says
Vitamin D benefits for women during pregnancy
“Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with adverse pregnancy and birth outcomes such as increased risk for preterm birth and preeclampsia. Some of the possible risks vitamin D deficient pregnant women may face according to research:
- Risk of developing preeclampsia and giving birth preterm
- Gestational diabetes
- Risk of bacterial vaginosis
- Risk of asthma and food allergy developing in newborns
“Health care providers should screen pregnant women at risk for vitamin D deficiency and supplement women accordingly based on their vitamin D status. This state of the science review, analyzed recently published meta-analyses and relevant studies that have evaluated the association between vitamin D deficiency and preeclampsia or preterm birth. The results suggest that a positive association between vitamin D deficiency and preterm birth exists”. According to Jennifer Woo, National Library of Medicine.
Side effects of excessive intake of vitamin D
“If you are healthy and your kidneys are functioning well, it is difficult to get too much vitamin D through dietary sources and sun exposure. You may get too much vitamin D, however, if you choose to take a supplement, especially a very high dose supplement. Yet again, if you ask your healthcare provider to check your vitamin D level and make a recommendation of a supplement dose (vitamin D3) if needed, it’s usually possible to avoid this potential risk”. Bracy says
Overdose vitamin D is “unlikely at intake under 10,000 IU per day, National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports. The upper limit healthcare professionals recommend for vitamin D is 4,000 IU per day for an adult”.
“Vitamin D toxicity is typically the result of inappropriate supplement dosing and prescription errors. Excessive vitamin D consumption can lead to hypercalcemia, or an excessively high blood calcium level. This can lead to calcification of bones and the hardening of blood vessels, kidneys, lungs, and heart tissues”.
Too much vitamin D can also lead to the following:
- Loss of appetite
- Dry mouth
- A metallic taste
Vitamin D supplements for women
Several brands may provide vitamin D benefits for women. But it is always suggested, to consult your doctor before considering any vitamin intake. Nutrient-test is best to be considered, to indicate if you’re vitamin D deficient. Your IU dose should be based on your doctor’s recommendation.
The right amount of vitamin D is also determined by your lifestyle and diet that includes vitamin D. Certain food can be suggested, including supplement to balance the levels of this vitamin D in your body.
“Vitamin D is one vitamin that can be difficult to obtain in a healthy diet. Nutrition guidelines recommend a daily intake of 200 to 800 international units (IUs) depending on your age.
We hear about milk as a good source, yet at 100 IU per eight-ounce glass, this could translate to 20 glasses of milk daily for adequate prevention, and the amount of milk unlikely to be healthy for many reasons.
Fatty fish may also grant you some vitamin D. In other words, it’s hard for the average person to get enough vitamin D in a healthy diet, unlike nearly all other vitamins.
Sunlight is an excellent source of vitamin D but is dependent on your latitude, as well as your use of sunscreen. On the other hand, spending 15 minutes outside in shirtsleeves on a pleasant day could result in your body producing 5000 IU of vitamin D or more.
As noted earlier, we may be trading a lower risk of skin cancer (and in that, the least deadly type of skin cancers) for a higher risk of more deadly cancers such as lung cancer and colon cancer by our conscientious use of sunscreen”. Kate Bracy, RN, NP