The majority of Spanish women have deficient dietary intake of vitamin D during the menopause, according to new research.
A team of Spanish researchers have revealed that menopausal women in the country are not reaching the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin D intake. Writing in the Spanish language journal Nutrición Hospitalaria, the research team reported that the average total intake of vitamin D during the menopause was 2.14 micrograms per day – constituting just 39% of the RDA for women of this age group.
The research team said that the findings are ‘striking’ because none of the sample groups reached 50% RDA.
“The vitamin D finding was unexpected, and at the beginning we thought the data was wrong because the percentage of women not reaching RDA was very high,” said Marina Pollán, a researcher at the Carlos III Institute of Health, and one of the authors of the study.
“We carried out the analysis again and found that it is correct that these women have very low intake of vitamin D in the diet,” she told NutraIngredients.
However, Pollán said that the low dietary intake of vitamin D – often referred to as the sunshine vitamin – would probably not cause a big problem in general, because the Spanish climate means that the women “are probably compensating for this through sun exposure though.”
The research team studies the dietary habits of 3574 women between the ages of 45 and 68 between the years of 2007 to 2008. The women were split into representative sample groups from seven Spanish cities – with each group containing a minimum of 500 women.
Pollán and her team revealed that practically all of the women received the recommended intake of all the vitamins, except vitamins D and E.
However, the Spanish researcher explained to NutraIngredients that although dietary intake is very low, it does not necessarily mean that people have low vitamin D status – adding that further research investigating vitamin D levels from blood samples would need to take place before such speculation could be confirmed or rebuffed.
“We plan to undertake another study, in the same women, taking blood samples to measure vitamin D,” she explained – adding that the next phase of the research was likely to begin in 2012 and “will take one or two years to complete.”
The analysis of dietary patterns during and after the menopause is of particular interest to researchers because of its health implications. Pollán explained that "biological and physiological changes in women caused by the menopause come with a greater risk of developing health problems in which diet plays an important role. These include diabetes, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer."
Source: Nutrición Hospitalaria
Volume 26, Issue 4, Pages 863-873, doi: 10.3305/nh.2011.26.4.520
"Cumplimiento de las recomendaciones dietéticas vigentes y variabilidad geográfica de la dieta en mujeres participantes en 7 programas de cribado de cáncer de mama en España"
Authors: N. García-Arenzana et al.