Mina Khan has over 25 years experience helping a wide range of women to improve their health and wellbeing through nutrition. Here she answers some of the most frequently asked questions on the benefits of Vitamin D for women aged 40+.
Vitamin D is absolutely vital for an array of functions in the body, such as promoting healthy bones and teeth as well as contributing to a strong immune system. Our modern lifestyles have resulted in a significant decrease in Vitamin D levels, with around 1 in 5 people in the UK now being deficient in this vitamin.
Public Health England now advises that we should all be taking at least a 10mcg supplement of Vitamin D each day. This is particularly important as we age, as research has found that low Vitamin D levels can contribute to many age-related illnesses in women, such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and cancer.
What Are Some Good Sources of Vitamin D
Dietary sources of Vitamin D include oily fish, such as tuna, halibut, salmon and mackerel. If you’re not a big fan of fish or are vegetarian or vegan, another fantastic source of Vitamin D is mushrooms. After they’ve been exposed to the sun, their nutrient content changes significantly, with the ever-so important Vitamin D being created. Therefore, consuming sun-exposed mushrooms during the winter months can be hugely beneficial to your health and the planet.
Other foods, such as egg yolks and some types of fortified cereal can also provide you with this powerful vitamin. Alternatively, you may prefer to use a supplement such as Formulate Health’s 100% natural high strength Vitamin D supplement.
How Can Vitamin D Help Your skin?
When it comes to Vitamin D, it’s crucial to find a healthy balance in order to benefit our skin, especially as we age. If the skin is exposed to too much sunlight, this can accelerate the rate at which it ages, leading to sun spots, dryness and even skin cancer.
If we don’t have enough Vitamin D - which is much more common here in the UK - this can lead to issues such as hyperpigmentation, telangiectasias (tiny visible blood vessels) and wrinkles.
Is Vitamin D Good For Ageing Skin?
Many studies have found that Vitamin D is beneficial for aging skin. As we age, our skin weakens, becoming more fragile and susceptible to breakdown. Vitamin D plays a key role in improving skin-related issues such as psoriasis and atopic dermatitis by promoting skin cell growth and repair, which significantly improves these common issues.
Does Vitamin D Affect Women Differently to Men?
This depends on the individual. However, women are more prone to developing subcutaneous (visible) fat than men, and given that Vitamin D is fat soluble - the molecule it produces may be more likely to be absorbed by women’s subcutaneous fat and less likely to end up in their system. Therefore it’s extremely important for women to ensure that they’re getting enough Vitamin D each day.
How Does Vitamin D Help Our Bones, Joints & Muscles?
Vitamin D helps our body’s to absorb calcium, which helps keep our bones strong and healthy. If we’re deficient in this vitamin, this can lead to issues such as rickets, osteoporosis and arthritis. Having strong bones is extremely important as we age. If we have a fall or an injury, our bones will be far less likely to break the stronger they are.
Low levels of Vitamin D can be responsible for joint pain. So if you currently suffer from any kind of pain, stiffness or soreness in your joints it’s definitely worth making sure you’re getting enough Vitamin D, and if you’re not, start supplementing.
This vitamin is essential for supporting muscle strength and even helping our posture. Various studies have found a link between healthy Vitamin D levels and the strength and size of our muscles. This is extremely important as we grow older, as after the age of 30, it’s estimated that we lose around 3-5% of our muscle mass each year. This can result in aches, pains and inflammation as the lower our muscle mass is, the more pressure we’ll be putting on our joints.
A reduction in muscle mass can also result in saggy skin and wrinkles, which are often especially noticeable on the face as we age.
Does Vitamin D Impact Our Energy levels?
Vitamin D is a great way to increase your energy levels and boost your mood. A study conducted by Newcastle University found that people with higher Vitamin D levels have more efficient mitochondrial function. The Mitochondria (also known as the ‘Powerhouse cell’) is responsible for producing the energy our body’s cells need to function and survive. Therefore, the higher our Vitamin D levels are, the more likely we will be to have higher energy levels.
Does Vitamin D Have Any Effects on Brain Function?
Research has found that low Vitamin D levels are associated with symptoms of negativity and depression. Results from cognitive function tests have also found that Vitamin D deficiency is linked to impairment in verbal fluency and processing speed, which often declines anyway as we age.
Can it Improve Memory?
Recent studies have found a relationship between low Vitamin D levels and the onset of Dementia. Therefore, if you want to give yourself the best chance of not developing issues with your memory, I’d strongly recommend making sure your Vitamin D levels are at a healthy level.
Can Sufficient Levels of Vitamin D Help Improve Mental Health?
Yes! Many studies have linked Vitamin D deficiencies with mental health problems such as depression. One such study was conducted in 2015 and found that Vitamin D reduces the increase in neuronal levels of calcium that are responsible for the onset of depression.
On top of this, another beneficial side effect of ensuring you have enough Vitamin D is an increase in energy levels, which can have a knock on effect on your overall mood.