You probably know that vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium and supports bone health. But vitamin D may also be a close ally during menopause as it’s a prohormone (a substance the body converts to hormones) and not a vitamin. Before we dig into how vitamin D may be a menopause solution, let’s first take a closer look at its role inside the body.
What is vitamin D, and how do we get it?
Though we call it a vitamin, Vitamin D is technically a hormone synthesized by the sun. Most of your vitamin D comes from catching rays. However, if you cover up or slather on sunscreen outside or live in an area with lots of gloomy days, you may need to get dietary support. Some foods contain vitamin D like eggs, fish, butter, liver, and fortified products (think cereals and dairy). You can also take Vitamin D supplements, especially if your vitamin D levels test low.
Why is vitamin D important during menopause?
As mentioned above, Vitamin D helps promote calcium absorption to maintain strong bones and teeth. This is essential as we go through menopause because our bones become more porous and lose density. Vitamin D also supports healthy muscle function, improving balance and decreasing the risk of falls as we get older.
Here are a few more ways vitamin D can support you as you transition through menopause:
Osteoporosis support — it’s no secret that vitamin D supports healthy bones. As you age and your hormone levels drop, you are more at risk for developing osteoporosis. When you bolster calcium levels with vitamin D, this powerful combo works to support healthy bones while maintaining bone density.
Cancer prevention — numerous studies show that vitamin D may help prevent more than 30 types of cancer. Vitamin D may also slow the growth of cancerous tumors already present in the body. Though studies strongly support Vitamin D as a cancer-preventer, getting ample D3 shouldn’t take the place of regular cancer screening. Early detection is your best defense against late-stage cancer.
Healthy mood — mood imbalance during menopause is common, especially for women who already experience low mood and depression on some level. Vitamin D has been shown in research to support a healthy mood. Vitamin D intake during darker months has been shown to support a better mood due to lack of daily sunlight. Vitamin D, along with other forms of emotional and dietary support, may help improve mood and reduce mood-related symptoms.
Heart health — as estrogen levels decline, you become even more at risk for cardiovascular disease. Though researchers haven’t made a clear connection, studies show that vitamin D may support a healthy heart. If you are at risk of heart disease, talk with your doctor about ways to support heart health, and find out how vitamin D fits into your plan.
Though sunlight is your best source of vitamin D, it’s essential to proceed with caution. Continue to wear sunscreen when your skin is exposed to sunlight for longer than 15 minutes or if you’re prone to burning. Talk with your healthcare provider about adding a vitamin D supplement to your daily diet to find out the right dose for you. If you’re interested in learning more about whether you’re experiencing menopause, take our menopause quiz and find out.