Menopausal Women Don’t Get Enough Vitamin D

Vitamins D and E deficient during menopause

(RxWiki News) You’ve heard it time and time again: eat vitamin-rich food to stay healthy, especially if you’re a woman who’s transitioning through an important developmental stage, such as menopause. However, not all women are following this advice.

A Spanish study shows that women in peri- and postmenopause are deficient in vitamin D, a nutrient that helps the body absorb calcium and strengthens bones and teeth. Women also lack vitamin E, which is needed to help heal and repair your skin, hair, fingernails and organs.

"Ask your doctor about proper vitamin supplementation."

The scientists concluded that a diet with less fat and protein and more vegetables, nuts and carbohydrate-rich food can balance energy intake and help raise your body's levels of vitamins D and E.

Women in menopause have a greater risk of developing health problems, including diabetes, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer, says study author Dr. Marina Pollan, a researcher at the Carlos III Insititute of Health in Spain. Identifying deficiencies and treating them early on can help women stay healthy and prevent other health problems.

The researchers tracked 3,574 Spanish women between the ages of 45 to 68 for 10 months. The women detailed their diet in a questionnaire, and were divided into groups based on where they were from: A Coruna, Barcelona, Burgos, Palma de Mallorca, Pamplona, Valencia and Zaragoza.

The researchers say that none of the women reached 50% of their Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for vitamin D. They consumed only 2.14 micrograms a day, which is just 39% of the RDA for women of this age bracket, as recommended by the Spanish Society of Community Nutrition.

The scientists found that women living furthest away from the Mediterranean Sea, consumed fewer fruits and vegetables.

Overall, 29% of the women were obese and 42% were overweight. Average calorie intake was 2,053 calories.

If you’re deficient in vitamin D, you can boost your intake by eating fish such as salmon, herring and sardines. Eggs and milk are also good sources. And don’t forget about the easiest way to get vitamin D: a daily dose of sunshine! When the sun’s rays hit your skin, it stimulates your skin’s production of this important vitamin. 

Need more vitamin E? Foods rich in this vitamin include leafy greens such as mustard greens, Swiss chard, spinach and kale, almonds, pine nuts, peanuts, papaya, kiwi and whole grain foods.

This observational study was published in the Spanish journal Nutricion Hospitalaria. 

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Review Date: 
November 23, 2011