Sunshine, Vitamin D & Osteoporosis

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Sunshine, Vitamin D & Osteoporosis

You may well have heard or read that Vitamin D stimulates the absorption of calcium and magnesium, both essential minerals required to maintain strong and healthy bones, and avoid the fear of fractures post menopause.

Statistics are concerning regarding the increased incidence following the menopause years:

  1. Osteoporosis is estimated to affect 200 million women worldwide (1) – approximately:
    • Age 60 10%
    • Age 70 20%
    • Age 80 40%
    • Age 90 60%
  2. Worldwide, 1 in 3 women over age 50 will experience osteoporotic fractures (1)
  3. Once a fragility fracture has occurred, the risk of a future fracture at least doubles. (2)
  4. In women over 50 years of age, the lifetime risk of a vertebral fracture is one in three and is one in five for a hip fracture (3)

Osteoporosis Facts

So where can we get all the Vitamin D we need?

Bring Me Sunshine!

cloud-346710_1280We get some vitamin D from some foods, including oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines, as well as meat and eggs, yet studies show that sunlight is the best natural source of vitamin D3, the most absorbable, utilisaable form of Vitamin D, also known as Cholecalciferol.

What’s unique about Vitamin D3 is that with the help of the sun, our own bodies can produce it which is a perfect example of our bodies working in harmony with Nature.

All excellent news, yet there are more benefits to ensuring your vitamin D levels are topped up.

Vitamin D is the Happy Vitamin

Lack of vitamin D can also add to feelings of irritability, anxiety and tearfulness which are so often heightened during the menopause years, it’s true we tend to feel so much happier and healthier when we’re in the sun! Why? Sunlight triggers an increase in the feel-good brain chemical serotonin a neurotransmitter that helps control sleep patterns, body temperature, our sex drive, and also lifts our mood and wards off depression.

Banishing Winter Blues

Vitamin D is also a fat soluble vitamin, meaning it’s stored in the fat cells of your body. So between the months of October and March when the sun sadly disappears for long periods of time, then the Vitamin D you’ve stored from the summer months should carry you through those darker months without experiencing the winter blues.

Enjoying the Sun Safely

Spending just 10 – 20 minutes a time, 3 – 4 times a week without sunscreen, can provide you with a healthy amount of Vitamin D3 to help you build stronger bones and also lift your mood.

[Tweet “Boost your Vitamin D levels safely in the UK sunshine”]

Note: It’s important to remember that the fairer your skin the less direct exposure is needed to activate Vitamin D synthesis. For you short bursts of sunshine on your skin would be sufficient.

And if you’re afraid of the risks of going out to the sun without sunscreen lotion, just remember that the benefits of the moderate sun exposure outweigh the risks.

Getting Tested

If you’re concerned you may have a lack of vitamin D, your GP can arrange a simple test, and if you’re low and can’t get out in the sunshine, then a supplement can help.

For more information see http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Summerhealth/Pages/vitamin-D-sunlight.aspxhttp://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Summerhealth/Pages/vitamin-D-sunlight.aspx

Enjoy the sun while you can!

Clare 🙂

If you’d like a free chat with me to discuss your menopause health concerns, then please follow this link. I’d love to hear from you. Clare 🙂

References:
(1) Source: http://www.iofbonehealth.org/facts-statistics
(2) BOA-BGS 2007 Blue Book
(3) NICE technology appraisal guidance 161, adjusted to take account of whole UK population
(4) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15585788
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