Sunday, July 15, 2018 by Bridgette Wilcox
Early menopause not only takes a toll on a woman’s physical health, but affects her emotional and mental well-being, too. It’s understandable, then, that delaying menopause is a matter of great importance to many women, and a subject of many scientific studies — many of which have found that delaying menopause often comes down to the things you put in your body. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, has found that a diet rich in vitamin D and calcium lowers the risk for early menopause and keeps the ovaries young, making sure that a woman’s fertile period does not end prematurely.
The study took place over two decades and included over 100,000 female health workers, DailyMail.co.uk reported. Over 2,000 participants started natural menopause within the study period. Researchers measured and recorded the participants’ vitamin D and calcium intakes from food and supplements every four years. After making adjustments to consider factors including age and smoking, they found that women who recorded the highest intake of dietary vitamin D had a 17 percent lower risk of early menopause, compared to the women with the lowest vitamin D intake. Dietary calcium intake was also associated with lower risk, the study found.
“There is really good laboratory evidence that vitamin D increases the production of hormones which slow down ovarian ageing and slow down the rate at which a woman loses her eggs. This is important because menopause comes when a woman has no eggs left. Calcium, we think, could also influence ovarian ageing, because it is present with hormones in cows’ milk like progesterone, which may also help to reduce risk of early menopause,” Alexandra Purdue-Smith, the study’s lead author, was quoted as saying in the DailyMail.co.uk report.
Apart from lowering the risk for premature menopause, vitamin D has many other functions and health benefits, mainly, ensuring the strength of bones and teeth by regulating the body’s absorption of calcium. Vitamin D has also been found to reduce the risk of multiple sclerosis, heart disease, breast cancer, and flu, according to HealthLine.com. It has also been seen to reduce symptoms of depression, as well as aid in weight loss.
Vitamin D is present in many food items, and can easily be incorporated into one’s diet and lifestyle. According to an article on Health.com, fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel are a great source of vitamin D. For instance, a three-oz salmon fillet already provides 450 of the 600 IUs of your daily allowance of vitamin D. Fatty fish also contain a lot of omega-3s, which are great for the heart. If fresh fatty fish isn’t available, canned tuna is a good alternative vitamin D source.
The article also recommended egg yolks as a vitamin D source, saying that one yolk alone can provide 40 IUs of the vitamin. Beef liver is another vitamin D-rich food, containing 50 IUs in a 3.5-oz serving. The article also noted that certain store-bought drinks are fortified with vitamin D, including cow’s milk, and even orange juice. A tablespoon of cod liver oil is another rich vitamin D source, providing more than double the recommended daily allowance of vitamin D.
Apart from dietary sources, the sun is also a great source of vitamin D. Direct exposure to sunlight (sans sunscreen) can get your body the vitamin D. Just 20 to 25 minutes will do if you’re fair-skinned (darker skinned people require a bit more time, as the pigments in their skin can block the sunlight), as prolonged exposure can be harmful.
However you choose to get your vitamin D, there’s no arguing that getting enough of this vitamin can work wonders for your health — especially if you’re a woman who wants to stay fertile for as long as she can.