Summer has finally arrived and while many of us will be reaping the benefits of long, sunny days, many menopausal women are struggling to cope with their hot flushes. However, as I explain, sunlight is very important when it comes to synthesising vitamin D, a nutrient that can actually help your digestion and muscle pain!
Hooray, summer is here at last – general rejoicing. But for many menopausal women summer heat means more hot flushes, so what to they do?
They stay out of the sun to try and keep cool. However, did you know that sunlight is vital for vitamin D production? Additionally, studies are now showing that low vitamin D levels may actually contribute to menopause symptoms!
Low vitamin D can cause low energy, fatigue, low immunity, depression, mood swings, sleep problems, weight gain, impaired cognitive function, bone weakness and muscle pain… Does all this sound familiar?
Unfortunately, as we get older producing vitamin D gets harder. Our skin thins, making it less able to synthesise vitamin D from sunlight; and if you spend most of the time indoors then you may be producing very little, if any. Women who do go out in the sun often apply sunscreen beforehand and this will actually block the production of vitamin D as well.
Our digestion often slows down too, so absorbing any vitamin D from food sources may be more difficult. All of this leading to very low levels, which can then trigger all the charming symptoms listed above.
So how can you up your levels of this important vitamin? There are several things you can do:
When going outside allow the skin 15-20 minutes of sunlight exposure before putting on sunscreen. 15 minutes once or twice a day can often synthesise enough vitamin D for all your needs! However, if you are fair skinned or have very sensitive skin 5 minutes may be best.
Eat vitamin D-rich foods such as wild salmon, sardines and other oily fish, free-range eggs, grass fed cow’s milk, or shiitake mushrooms. Lots of supermarket foods are fortified with vitamin D, such as bread, margarine and cereals, but this is synthetic and may not be particularly helpful.
If you don’t get out a lot and are not keen on the above foods you could try a vitamin D3 supplement from your heath shop. The recommended dose is approx 1000-4000iu daily.
You won’t get the menopause the minute you turn 50! The average starting age is actually between 45 and 55 and it can often depend on a number of factors including hereditary, weight and health, however every single woman will have an individual menopause.