Professor Rees, and whom it may concern:
I am respectfully submitting a hypothesis I have come to regarding the link between menopausal symptoms and the importance of Vitamin D.
I am a hobbyist health researcher and educator, an athletics coach at San Francisco State University, with an Environmental Chemical Engineering degree from Montana State University in Bozeman, MT, USA.
I began studying this topic after suffering through my mother’s and now a dear friend of mine’s menopausal symptoms. My mother suffered horrible bleeding for years, which was only stopped by a hysterectomy. My friend has had very strange symptoms for the past 3 years, including unbearable hot flashes and a collarbone popping out of place suddenly.
Putting their stories together, I found a common link: Both women spent nearly all their time indoors while their menopause was beginning. My mother, because her dog passed away, and then moved to the northwestern United States near Seattle, WA, which is known for over 300 days a year of no sunshine. She told me that she went on a walk one day, and was stalked by a truck driver from a nearby truck stop, and decided it was unsafe for her to walk during the day anymore while my father was at work.
My friend opened a business 6 years ago, and has been working 5-6 days/week indoors at her business. Living in San Francisco, CA, it is often overcast or foggy, and she hasn’t gotten much sunshine at all.
I understand the role Vitamin D plays in bone health. But I think it is important to consider Vitamin D’s effect on Iron (Fe) to understand how it can exacerbate menopause. I will start off with the statement that I believe it is not in our birthright to suffer unduly from processes that have been a natural part of life for hundreds of thousands of years, such as menopause.
Vitamin D is made useful in the body via contact with Iron. Therefore, it is plausible that without adequate Vitamin D, Iron levels may rise proportionally in the body. We know that menopausal women have high iron levels and low estrogen levels.
The body does not have a need for extra iron, so I believe its response to rid itself of the extra iron is to signal production of testosterone. Testosterone would cause a woman to want to exercise like crazy, or have sex, and she would feel anxious or moody, i.e., testier unless the testosterone’s demands are met. Why more testosterone? Because when the body expends energy anaerobically, it builds up an aerobic deficit and must take in large quantities of oxygen.
The body could use that oxygen to convert the extra Iron to hemoglobin, thus keeping body chemistry safe. However, women don’t always jump up and exercise like crazy when they feel extra levels of testosterone. They might just get more anxious. Extra testosterone causes very uncomfortable hot flashes. (I know this because I was an ovum donor six times and hot flashes was a side-effect of the testosterone they gave me for the treatments).
Too much testosterone can lead to other unpleasant effects associated with menopause, such as PCOS (Poly cystic ovarian syndrome) and the heavy bleeding and cramps which accompany it.
Unfortunately I am too busy to pursue research of my hypothesis on a large scale. I am going to have my friend supplement with Vitamin D or begin safe UVB exposure to see if we can reverse some of her worst symptoms. I am confident that she will improve.
She is currently supplementing with 1000 IU D3 as well as 1000 IU D3 in her multi-vitamin. I read online that approximately 1000 IU’s/minute are synthesized by the body when exposed to UVB rays, and that, for light-skinned people, 10-15 minutes of sun exposure/day is adequate. This means, due to the negligible sun she is getting on her skin, she is under-supplementing her D3 by at LEAST 8000 IUs/day, assuming the absorption rate of her supplements is 100% (a poor assumption I’m sure!).
I would appreciate any response you would have to my inquiry, and hope it can be helpful. Perhaps others have already reached the same conclusion for a hypothetical pathway back to health.
Thank you for your time,
Christina Margaret McKinstry