According to a large American study, a high dietary intake of vitamin D and calcium is associated with a lower risk of early-onset menopause, where the menstrual periods cease before a woman reaches 45 years of age. Premature menopause affects around 10 percent of women, and the condition increases the risk of impaired fertility, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and earlier cognitive impairment. The prevention of these diseases is also a matter of getting enough sunshine, magnesium, and omega-3.
Menopause is the period around a woman’s final menstrual bleeding. The word is derived from the two Latin words meno (month) and pausa (termination). After menopause, the ovaries no longer produce estradiol, testosterone, and progesterone because these hormones are no longer there is no longer needed for fertilization and maturation of an egg. Still, women continue to produce smaller quantities of sex hormones in the adrenal glands, liver, and fatty tissue.
The typical Western woman enters her natural menopause at an age of around 50 years. Early-onset menopause occurs before the age of 45, and the hormone changes increase a woman’s risk of osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and early cognitive impairment. As the so-called pre-menopause can easily begin 5-10 year before this and especially in connection with decreasing progesterone levels, it is often followed by impaired fertility even if a woman still has her periods. There is lot to suggest that diet and lifestyle play a significant role in the prevention of early-onset menopause and those ageing processes that menopause typically promotes.
Vitamin D lowers the risk of early-onset menopause by 17 percent
High dietary intake of vitamin D may lower a woman’s risk of early-onset menopause by 17 percent, while a diet rich in calcium lowers the risk by 13 percent. These findings come from a recent study conducted by scientists at the University of Massachusetts, USA. The researchers evaluated data from a large study of 116,430 nurses 1989 (Nurses’ Health Study). When the study was initiated in 1989, the nurses were aged 25-42 years. Over a period of 20 years, they filled in four questionnaires about their diet and use of supplements.
After adjusting for several factors such as protein intake, vegetable consumption, drinking habits, BMI, and smoking, the scientists found that vitamin D from food sources such as oily fish, high-fat dairy products, and eggs was associated with a 17 percent lower risk of early-onset menopause. They assume that vitamin D delays the ageing of women’s ovaries, and that calcium is important for sex hormones. Lead investigator Alexandra Purdue-Smithe says that a high intake of vitamin D and calcium also serves as a marker of diet quality and general health, but more research is needed in this area.
The study is published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
We should not forget that the summer sun is our primary source of vitamin D. On a warm summer day, it is possible to synthesize vitamin D in greater quantities than what we get from our diet. The study did not say whether the scientists took into account how much sun the participants were exposed to.
Important: When studying people’s diet and vitamin D intake, it is also important to look at their sun exposure
On a sunny day during summer, one can easily synthesize around 30 micrograms of vitamin D in fifteen minutes and even more with prolonged exposure or if wearing swimming clothes. In order to get that amount of vitamin D from your diet, it would require consuming 100 grams of free-range salmon, 300 grams of marinated herring, 10 eggs, 7.5 liters of high-fat dairy cream (38%) or 13 kilos of cheese (40% fat content or higher).
Strong bones require vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin K2
The risk of osteoporosis (brittle bones) goes up with early-onset menopause plus other factors such as genes, having small bones but a high fat percentage, smoking, lack of bone-straining physical activity, using certain types of medicine, and lacking several essential nutrients.
Our bone mass decreases as a natural part of growing older. After menopause sets in, the bone loss accelerates. Nonetheless, many older women lose bone mass without it affecting them in any way.
Bone-strengthening supplements are widely used, especially those containing calcium and vitamin D, which helps the absorption of calcium. Always remember to include magnesium, as calcium needs this micronutrient to get into the bone cells. Without magnesium, blood levels of calcium increase along with the risk of atherosclerosis. Also, we need plenty of vitamin K2, which helps remove calcium from the bloodstream and carry it to the bones. Vitamin K2 also activates osteocalcin, the hormone that contributes to maintaining strong bones.
Make sure to get enough magnesium for your estrogen balance and nervous system
Magnesium supports over 300 different enzyme processes and plays a particularly important role in the balance between different types of estrogen (estradiol, estriol, and estrone) and progesterone – also during menopause.
Fish oil is good for your blood vessels, joints, and brain after menopause
As mentioned earlier, the risk of cardiovascular disease increases after menopause. Research has shown that oily fish or fish oil supplements help protect the heart and blood vessels by lowering levels of triglycerides in the blood.
People with elevated levels of omega-3 in their blood have better circulation in those parts of the brain that are associated with learning, language skills, memory and other cognitive functions, according to a report that is published in Journal of Alzheimer’s disease. According to the scientists behind the report, this supports earlier research where scientists have found that consuming oily fish or fish oil supplements help us maintain our cognitive health and remain positive.
Fish oil also counteracts dry skin, dry mucosa, dry eyes, aching joints, and mood swings, symptoms that are often seen in connection with menopause. Fish oil contains the two omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, which are particularly important for the brain, the nervous system, the hormone balance, and for controlling inflammation.
Omega-3 fatty acids from vegetable sources such as linseeds, rapeseed, and chia are in the form of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), which for many people is difficult to convert to EPA and DHA. For that reason, most people benefit more from fish oil from oily fish caught in clean waters or from fish oil supplements.
Purdue-Smithe AC et al. Vitamin D and calcium intake and risk of early menopause. AMERICAN Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2017
University of Massachusetts Amherst. Vitamin D and calcium from food is associated with lower risk of early menopause.
University of Bristol. Magnesium could prevent fractures, say researchers. ScienceDaily 2017
Nutrition insight. Neuroimaging Highlights Role of Omega-3 in preventing Cognitive decline. 2017
Pernille Lund. Sund og smuk hele livet. Ny Videnskab 2016
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