Women and vitamin D

We all need vitamin D to build and maintain strong, healthy bones throughout our lives, without it we can develop bone diseases like osteoporosis and osteomalacia.  Women, however, are at an ever higher risk of developing these diseases, because we have less bone mass than men and we lose bone density as we age and our estrogen levels naturally decrease.  These two factors make it especially important for women to maintain an adequate amount of vitamin D throughout their life, as well as eating foods high in calcium.

No bones about it

Vitamin D helps our bodies absorb calcium and phosphorus, so together these three nutrients work to maintain healthy bone mass.  A deficiency in vitamin D can lead to brittle, thin, misshaped bones, osteomalacia (a softening of bones), or osteoporosis (weakened bone structure), which can also contribute to weakened muscle mass.[1] Women are 4 times more likely to develop these bone diseases than men are, especially women over the age of 50, as menopause kicks in, and hormone levels decrease.[2]  Often times, bone disease is not even detected until after a fracture has occurred caused from the weakened and thinned out bones.  To help prevent this, women should aim to take in 600-800IU daily of vitamin D, however many studies have shown that taking 1,000 IU has even more beneficial and poses no harm[3].

Building a baby?

Vitamin D is very important during periods of rapid growth, such as pregnancy.  Vitamin D allows us to absorb calcium and phosphorous into our bones and teeth.  There is also a vitamin D receptor in almost every cell of our body.  When we think of how quickly a baby develops during gestation, vitamin D is an important nutrient during this time. It is best to check with your practitioner, and also review the amounts in your prenatal vitamins.

The best source of vitamin D is sunshine, however our sun time can be limited due to higher latitudes, the colder weather, and sunscreen.  So, it is important to make sure you are meeting your vitamin D needs through a healthy diet of salmon, tuna, eggs, mushrooms, and fortified dairy (for more ideas try these recipes).  But diet alone may still not be enough when it comes to vitamin D, so check out the Ddrops family of products and take a daily supplement.

Brigitte Zeitlin, MPH, RD, CDN is a Ddrops guest blogger.  She is a registered dietitian-nutritionist and owner of BZ Nutrition, a private nutrition counseling practice in New York City.  She works with clients to help them reach a variety of health goals and specializes in women’s nutrition, digestive disorders, heart health, weight management and general health and wellness. Brigitte is a contributing nutrition expert for SELF and has been featured in Cosmopolitan, Glamour.com, and Womenshealth.com.  She loves to go for brunch in her West Village neighborhood, and always eats her eggs with the yolks! You can follow her and stay in touch @BZNutrition on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

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[1] Tulane University.  School of Medicine.  Accessed on 3/9/2017.  https://www2.tulane.edu/som/departments/pathology/mod/bone/metabolic_bone_diseases.cfm

[2] Cleveland Clinic. Health Library: Menopause & Osteoporosis. Accessed on 3/10/2017. http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/menopause-and-osteoporosis

[3] Cleveland Clinic. Health Library: Menopause & Osteoporosis. Accessed on 3/10/2017. http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/menopause-and-osteoporosis.