Did you know that being deficient in vitamin D may impact our bladder health? Having a sufficient level of vitamin D in the body has been shown to alleviate bladder leaks. Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that has powerful effects throughout the body. This vitamin helps us in so many ways since every cell in the body has a receptor for it.
Many people don’t know much about vitamin D, why we need it, how a low level can affect us, or how it is related to our bladder health. Here, we will break it all down for you and explain what vitamin D is and why it is essential in our overall health.
Why We Need Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential for everyone; however, it is especially critical for women. As women age, estrogen levels begin to drop off. Estrogen is the hormone that protects a woman’s bones. This decrease in estrogen contributes to loss of bone density and muscle strength.
Without this essential vitamin, bone health suffers, leading to osteoporosis, increasing the chances of breaking a bone. Vitamin D also optimizes our muscle strength for stability, balance, and flexibility. When we don’t have even one of those, the risk of falls, injury, and other problems increases.
Vitamin D plays many essential roles within our bodies. Some of the ways it helps us are:
- Facilitates calcium absorption
- Impacts our heart health
- Keeps our bones strong
- Contributes to a healthy immune system
- Stabilizes our mood
- Controls healthy blood sugar levels
- Keeps our bladder healthy
When we take in vitamin D from food, supplements, or the sun, it gets stored in our fat cells. From there, vitamin D remains inactive until it is needed. When the body needs vitamin D, it is released into the liver and then the kidneys, where it goes through a process to activate the vitamin D in our bodies.
Vitamin D, Pelvic Floor Health, & Bladder Control
Not only does Vitamin D benefit our bones, but it may also help with muscle strength, including the muscles in the pelvic floor and bladder control. With age, childbirth, or trauma, the pelvic floor muscles can become weak. Pressure from the organs above the bladder can then cause occasional urinary leaks. Since vitamin D optimizes our muscle strength, a lack of it will impair our muscle strength, mass, and bladder health.
The pelvic floor is a sling of muscles, like a hammock that supports our uterus, colon, and bladder. A vitamin D deficiency can contribute to a weak pelvic floor, potentially causing any of the following:
- Stress incontinence– Experiencing leaks and drips after physical movement such as laughing, coughing, sneezing, or lifting.
- Overactive bladder– The bladder muscles sporadically contract, giving a sense of urgency to urinate and leading to involuntary leakage.
- Bladder Prolapse – Also known as a cystocele, a herniated, or fallen bladder, bladder prolapse is when the muscles between the bladder and the vagina weaken, causing the bladder to droop into the vagina.
One clinical study found was that women with lower levels of Vitamin D were much more likely to experience pelvic floor dysfunctions and disorders than those with healthier levels. Speaking to your doctor to get your vitamin D levels checked might be a good idea if you are experiencing any signs and symptoms we will discuss now.
Signs of Low Vitamin D Levels
- Getting sick often – Vitamin D keeps the immune system strong to fight viruses and bacteria.
- Fatigue – Talk to your doctor. Fatigue is often an overlooked symptom and can usually be controlled by taking a vitamin D supplement.
- Bone and back pain – Again, talk to your doctor. A vitamin D supplement may be able to alleviate some of this pain.
- Hair loss – If you are nutrient deficient, hair loss could be related to low vitamin D levels in the body. Most commonly, this is caused by an autoimmune disease called rickets. This disease causes soft bones due to a vitamin D deficiency.
- Muscle weakness, aches, or cramps – Muscle pain can be pretty difficult to pinpoint. Chronic muscle pain has been linked to low levels of vitamin D.
- Mood changes or depression – Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to depression, especially in older adults. A supplement of vitamin D may improve this symptom.
- Urinary and fecal incontinence – Studies have shown that low vitamin D levels are linked to pelvic floor disorders such as urinary and fecal incontinence. Since vitamin D is related to bone and muscle strength, a deficiency could lead to bladder leakage.
Vitamin D deficiency is quite common, and most people are unaware of it. Symptoms often come on slowly, so it can be difficult to pinpoint whether they are caused by a lack of vitamin D or something else. Always speak to your doctor about any symptoms you are having so they can measure your blood levels. Usually, a vitamin D deficiency is easily fixed by taking a supplement, increasing your sun exposure, or eating more vitamin D-rich foods such as dairy products or fatty fish.
How Can You Increase Your Vitamin D Levels?
There are a variety of ways that you can boost your Vitamin D levels. Here are a few suggestions:
Get outside and soak up some sun… safely!
Referred to as the “sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D is made in the body by using the sun’s UV-B rays. When the cholesterol in the skin is exposed to these rays, it becomes vitamin D. Many other factors contribute to the amount of vitamin D the body makes, such as skin tone, age, geographic location, and sunscreen. The older you are, the darker your skin, the further away from the equator you live in, and the higher USP-rated sunscreen you wear all contribute to how much sun exposure you need to produce vitamin D.
Vitamin D supplements
There are two types of vitamin D supplements; vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. Vitamin D2 is found in plant-based foods, and vitamin D3 is found in animal products and fatty fish. One of the best supplements for increasing your vitamin D3 is cod liver oil or fish oil. Vitamin D2 supplements help the body keep the right amount of calcium for healthy bones and teeth. Both vitamin D2 and D3 supplements are available over-the-counter. However, getting your blood levels checked can help your doctor determine the correct dose of vitamin D supplements to take.
Add vitamin D to your diet
You can try to incorporate many foods into your daily diet to help increase your vitamin D levels. Some of those foods are:
- Mushrooms – Like humans, mushrooms produce vitamin D when exposed to the sun’s UV light.
- Egg yolks – Chickens raised in a free-range pasture are exposed to the sun and produce more vitamin D-rich eggs.
- Foods fortified with vitamin D – Many goods like cereals, orange juice, almond milk, yogurt, and tofu have vitamin D added to them to increase the intake of this vitamin.
The Bottom Line About Vitamin D and Bladder Health
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that keeps the body and bladder healthy. It builds strong bones and muscles, including the bladder muscles that support your pelvic floor and help it work efficiently. It may be helpful to keep a bladder diary if you are starting to notice bladder leaks. You can share that information with your doctor so they can better understand your symptoms. You might be surprised how getting a little more sun or slightly changing your diet could help your vitamin D levels and bladder health.