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Can Vitamin D Deficiency Affect My Menstrual Cycle?

Balanced hormones and a regular menstrual cycle are important for long-term health. Many women suffer from an irregular menstrual cycle, due to a variety of factors including a deficiency in certain nutrients in the body. Vitamin D plays an important role in many of the body's processes; a deficiency of this vitamin may also affect your menstrual cycle.

Deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency is common, particularly in cooler climates because the body produces it when the skin is exposed to sunlight. A deficiency of this vitamin can occur due to low sun exposure based on latitude and season, or darker skin color, which requires more sun exposure to produce sufficient amounts of vitamin D. Not eating enough vitamin D-fortified foods also can lead to a deficiency. Though it is impossible to identify exact numbers, Dr. Soram Khalsa author of "The Vitamin D Revolution," estimates that more than 75 percent of his new patients are deficient in vitamin D or could benefit from increasing vitamin D levels.

Effects

According to the book "A Guide to Evidence-Based Integrative and Complementary Medicine," regular exposure to sunshine has an important role in regulating hormones. This may due to the fact that sunshine exposure is the primary source of vitamin D, which helps to regulate dopamine, the "feel-good" hormone. PMS symptoms often lessen when dopamine is regulated, so a deficiency of vitamin D might be the culprit of excessive premenstrual issues. Additionally, Dr. Khalsa notes that vitamin D deficiency has been linked to muscular weakness, musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, frequent infections, depression and hormone imbalance.

Research

In his book "The Vitamin D Solution," Dr. Michael F. Holick references a study in which women who suffered from PMS were given bright-light treatments that stimulated vitamin D production. PMS symptoms such as depression, anxiety and irritability were greatly reduced with the increase in vitamin D. In other research conducted at Columbia University, polycystic ovarian syndrome, a condition of imbalanced hormones in women, was found to be corrected by vitamin D supplementation. Other studies indicate that vitamin D and calcium supplementation might help with healing severe PMS symptoms.

Considerations

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means it is stored in the liver and fatty tissues. Because it is slowly excreted, over-consuming this vitamin can lead to toxicity and serious side effects ranging from nausea to kidney damage. Work with a doctor who can test your vitamin D levels before taking vitamin D as a supplement. Also, other deficiencies or dietary inadequacies might be causing your menstrual issues, so be sure to work with a health professional to determine the exact cause.

References (4)

  • "The Vitamin D Revolution"; Soram Khalsa, MD; 2009
  • "A Guide to Evidence-Based Integrative and Complementary Medicine"; Vicki Kotsirilos,
  • "The Vitamin D Solution"; Michael F. Holick, PhD, MD; 2010
  • "Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom"; Christiane Northrup, MD; 2006

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.