Some time ago, we started talking about vitamins. One pivotal Vitamin for us is Vitamin C. Not only does it become more important in the cold winter months, but also helps our immune system which is under more stress in winter greatly. This is because we spend more time inside, and the risk of respiratory diseases becomes higher.
It is necessary then, especially for menopausal women, to try to get the right amount of vitamin C, to keep the immune system working at its best. It is already difficult to keep everything balanced since we are already low in Vitamin D during winter, which also keeps the immune system at the regime. Therefore, we have to keep an eye on our diet and take supplements whenever we get some symptoms that may indicate we are deficient.
But what are these symptoms? And why are all these vitamins so important?
Vitamin C has a bigger role than just helping our immune system. In fact, many studies demonstrated the importance of daily intake of Vitamin C and bone health. That’s one of the reasons why it is really important in menopausal women- who are already exposed to bone fragility. There are a lot of studies on the influence of Vitamin C intake in menopausal women. This group of research showed that Vitamin C dietary intake was positively associated with selected features of the bone health status of the participants.
Many studies demonstrated the importance of daily intake of Vitamin C and bone health.
Another study was a bit more precise, analysing the more in-depth influence of the diet on bone mass. Dietary assessment was evaluated using a 24-h dietary recall and BMD was examined by DEXA. When the studied women were allocated to three subgroups according to their daily Vitamin C intake, the analysis revealed that their bone mineral density showed a dose-effect depending on Vitamin C consumption.
The authors attempted to find the association between Vitamin C and BMD according to vitamin D status. To assess this relationship, the studied women were divided into two groups related to their vitamin D status. In the Vitamin D-deficient group (with Vitamin D concentration lower than 50 nmol/l), BMD was positively correlated with dietary vitamin C intake. That means that if you have a low level of Vitamin D but good Vitamin C intake, your bones are partially protected (always better to keep Vitamin D levels under control as it is one of the most important ones regarding bone health). Moreover, it has been demonstrated that increasing Vitamin C intake or taking supplements does not increase the risk of breast cancer, which is very good news since it seems that everything is threatening us with the risk of breast cancer these days.
So let’s have a look at exactly what vitamin C can do to the body. Now we know that it’s needed for hundreds of different processes, so we’re only going to talk about a few here.
Growth and repair
Vitamin C is needed for growth and repair in basically all parts of the body. It’s needed everywhere! We know in the menopause that there are lots of physical changes going on at this time. So our need for vitamin C here does tend to go up quite a bit compared to other times in our life.
Helps to make collagen
Vitamin C plays a role in making collagen. And collagen is needed to make connective tissue and connective tissue is what keeps everything in our bodies nice and stable. For example, it stops our skin from getting wrinkles and sagging. It helps our ligaments to be strong and maintain stable joints. And we all know that joint aches and pains are very common in menopause. A large number of women have this particular symptom. It’s also needed to strengthen and keep our blood vessels healthy. And that’s important in the menopause because, for a lot of women, circulation can deteriorate quite a bit. And that can cause other health issues.
Wound healing and support of immune functions
Vitamin C is needed for wound healing and most important is needed to support immune functions. It’s amazing how many of us going through the menopause find that we tend to get more infections in the winter, as we were saying at the beginning of the article. So we need more vitamin C to help support our immune system generally.
Gum & teeth health
Vitamin C is also needed for our gum health and teeth repair. Many women in menopause often have bleeding gums. So if this is one of your symptoms, then you could usually guarantee that you’re going to be that little bit low in vitamin C.
Prevention of heart disease
Vitamin C can help to prevent heart disease. And we know that falling oestrogen can have quite a profound effect on cardiovascular health. And a lot of women, especially peri-menopausal, can be more prone to all sorts of heart issues.
This is really important, as it appears that vitamin C is needed to control histamine levels. And most of us, at some point during the menopause, will end up with itchy skin. So, if you’re getting a lot of itchy skin, that could be a good indication that you’re that little bit low in vitamin C.
It seems that a regular intake of vitamin C can help in many of the menopausal symptoms. But the real question now is: How much vitamin C do you really need? Well, the recommended daily allowance, believe it or not, is only 75 milligrams per day which does not seem much. But the recommended daily allowance is there as an amount to stop you being ill, so if you take 75 milligrams of vitamin C a day, you’re not likely to get scurvy. But that doesn’t mean to say that you’re still not deficient and that you won’t end up with other low vitamin C symptoms.
In the end, we need a lot more vitamin C. But we need it in little quantities and often. And it’s a really interesting evolutionary reason as to why we’ve come to this situation. As human beings, we used to eat much more fruits and berries in the past, therefore, we didn’t need so much extra vitamin C. Things changed now, and our Vitamin C intake through our everyday diet is much lower.
Interestingly enough, guinea pigs, fruit bats, some birds, and also all the primates are the only animals that are not able to manufacture their own vitamin C.
So what’s the best way to get vitamin C? Honestly, it’s probably through your food. If you can get really good quality food- lots of fresh foods, then you can probably get enough vitamin C. Most important Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, which means that the excess will be excreted with your urine. Which means we don’t need to worry about taking more than necessary.
The best food in which you can find Vitamin C are green bell peppers and yellow bell peppers, oranges, kiwi fruits, berries, dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli. Fresh peas are really high in vitamin C as well. It’s also important to know that most of these foods are very high in magnesium; all the nutrients you need during menopause.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, which means that the excess will be excreted with your urine. Which means we don’t need to worry about taking more than necessary.
If you don’t eat most of the food with Vitamin C you can also take supplements. It’s best to look at supplements that have added bioflavonoids in them as well. They all work together, therefore helping the absorption of the vitamins. Try and get a supplement that’s food state or is made from natural fruits rather than ascorbic acid if you can.
You can try my range of supplements at Megsmenopause, the Meno Blend.
Prz Menopauzalny. 2018 Dec; 17(4): 175–179.
Published online 2018 Dec 31. doi: 10.5114/pm.2018.81742
PMCID: PMC6372850 PMID: 30766465 Selected vitamins and quality of life in menopausal women Paweł Milart, Ewa Woźniakowska, and Wojciech Wrona