The Importance of Vitamin D -- for Women Nearing Menopause

Many women ask me if they should be taking a vitamin D supplement. Studies show 42% to 54% of women have low vitamin D levels, so…

Recommendation #1:

Ask your doctor to check your Vitamin D level, if you haven’t done so recently.

Why check your vitamin D level?  Many studies show low levels of vitamin D may be linked to other diseases, such as colon and breast cancer, high blood pressure, Type 2 Diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

Need more reasons? Women with adequate vitamin D

·         absorb calcium better

·         have less bone loss after menopause

·         have a lower risk of hip fractures and falling

Vitamin D also helps us build muscle, which is really important because during menopause and as we age we lose muscle mass every year.

The challenge…There aren’t a lot of foods that are rich in vitamin D. The best sources are fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines, herring), fortified milk and breakfast cereals, eggs, and some yogurts, margarine and orange juice (check the label because not all are fortified with vitamin D). The problem is we don’t get enough vitamin D from these foods daily, so women usually need to add a supplement.

Many women ask me, “If I exercise outdoors, don’t I make enough vitamin D?” It’s true that our bodies make vitamin D when exposed to the sun, but if you live in the U.S. north of the line that runs from Los Angeles to South Carolina, you don’t make enough vitamin D about 6 months out of the year.

“How much do I need?”  There’s much controversy right now about how much vitamin D women should take as a supplement. For women with normal blood levels, the National Institutes of Health recommends 600 IU up to age 70 and 800 IU for women over 70 years old, with a maximum recommended intake of 4,000 IU daily. However, if your blood test shows you’re deficient in vitamin D, you may need a larger dose initially to increase the levels in your blood, so talk to a registered dietitian and your doctor to determine the right dose for you.

 I’d love to hear what you do to get your vitamin D each day! Feel free to post comments here or on my Facebook page.

Sources: Miller, JAMA Neurology 2015; American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 94:486, 2011; Center for Science in the Public Interest; National Institutes of Health Fact Sheets