Women have varying needs for Vitamin D at different stages of life: from pregnancy through to the menopause.
Why do women need vitamin D?
Vitamin D helps to maintain calcium and phosphorous levels in the body, which are important in keeping bones and teeth healthy.
Without enough Vitamin D, women are at greater risk of osteoporosis and other degenerative diseases.
Vitamin D and pregnancy
If you are pregnant, it is important that you are getting the required 10mcg of Vitamin D a day. This will help your baby’s bones and teeth to develop. A vitamin D deficiency in unborn children could cause weak bones and teeth and, in very rare cases, lead to rickets. Vitamin D can also help to support your immune system and fight infections.
Vitamin D and breastfeeding
If you are breastfeeding, then it is important that you still get 10 mcg of vitamin D a day. Your baby continues to need this vitamin so that they can grow strong bones and teeth. Vitamin D will also help to support their immune system, which is especially important in helping to fight off bugs.
Vitamin D and the menopause
As we get older, our bodies get less efficient at using Vitamin D. This affects the rate at which calcium is absorbed. Experts think there is a link between changing hormone levels and Vitamin D conversion in the body. This means that menopausal and post-menopausal women are at greater risk of osteoporosis than younger women. Ensuring you are getting 10mcg of vitamin D a day will help to support your bone health.
Are you at risk of low Vitamin D?
Our bodies make most of our vitamin D by exposure to sunlight. Therefore, it is common to experience deficiency during the winter months when there is less sunlight and we spend more times in doors and wearing more layers.
Those who may be at particular risk include:
- Those who aren’t often outdoors – for example, if you’re frail or housebound
- Those who live in a care home
- Those who usually wear clothes that cover up most of your skin when outdoors
- Those with dark skin, such as African, African-Caribbean or south Asian.
How can women get more Vitamin D?
The best way to get more vitamin D is to spend more time exposing your skin to the sun. It only takes 20 minutes of sun exposure to your hands, forearms, face, and lower legs to get a boost.
However, if this isn’t possible, it is recommended that you take a daily Vitamin D supplement to ensure you are getting enough. For many, taking the supplement during the winter months will be sufficient, but it you fall into one of the at-risk groups, then you should take a supplement all year round.