Tag Archives: How to Reduce Your Risk of Stroke

Early Menopause and Vitamin D and Calcium

A recent study indicates that vitamin D and calcium intake may be associated with the risk of early menopause (menopause occurring before the age of 45 years).

Early menopause has been associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and other health issues.

In the study, the researchers found that women with the highest intake of dietary vitamin D had a significantly lower risk of early menopause than women with the lowest intake of vitamin D.

As for calcium, there was a borderline significantly lower risk of early menopause for women with the highest dietary calcium intake compared to those with the lowest intake.

Interestingly, these associations were stronger for vitamin D and calcium from dairy sources than from non–dairy food sources. And a high intake of vitamin D and calcium supplements had no association with lower risk of early menopause.

Although more research is needed, the researchers concluded that high intakes of dietary vitamin D and calcium may be modestly associated with a lower risk of early menopause.

In light of these findings, let’s review daily recommendations for calcium and vitamin D.

The daily calcium recommendation for adults 19-50 years is 1000 mg, to a maximum of 2500 mg. The recommendation is the same for women of this age range who are pregnant or breast-feeding.

Although the association was strongest with calcium from dairy sources, other good food sources of calcium include calcium fortified soy beverages, canned fish, cooked spinach, legumes and almonds.

The daily vitamin D recommendation for adults up to 70 years of age is 600 IU to a maximum of 4000 IU. The recommendation is the same for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding.

Although the association was strongest for vitamin D from dairy sources, other sources of vitamin D include fatty fish (such as sardines, salmon, tuna and mackerel), eggs, and fortified orange juice, soy, rice and almond beverages.

Use these helpful tips to maximize your absorption of calcium:

Vitamin D helps the absorption of calcium – consume them together.

Caffeine lowers the absorption of calcium – limit caffeine to no more than 400 mg per day (about 2-3 cups of coffee).

Alcohol lowers the absorption of calcium – limit intake to no more than 2 drinks per day.

Smoking lowers the absorption of calcium – if you smoke, quit.


How to Reduce Your Risk of Stroke

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is one of the most important things you can do to help prevent your risk of stroke. The best eating plan to help prevent stroke is the DASH eating plan.

The DASH eating plan is very similar to Canada’s Food Guide – they both focus on whole foods, plenty of fibre, and small amounts of healthy fats.

Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. They are packed with fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Slowly increase your intake until you are consuming 7 to 10 servings per day. Try to include at least one dark green vegetable and one orange vegetable or fruit each day.

Choose mostly whole grains. Whole grain foods contain fibre, vitamins, minerals, and some contain protein. Whole grains will keep you feeling full – and have a smaller effect on your blood sugar – then highly processed white grains.

Choose lean proteins. Choose lean cuts of meat, chicken without skin, lower fat dairy products and eggs. Include vegetable protein sources such as beans and legumes, nuts and nut butters, and soy products throughout the week. Include fish at least two times each week.

Use healthy fats. Include small amounts of heart healthy fats such as olive oil and the fat found in avocados, nuts and seeds.

Limit your intake of highly processed foods. These include processed meats such as hot dogs and deli meats; frozen entrées such as lasagnas, pizzas and TV dinners; boxed foods with added seasonings or seasoning packets such as some boxed pastas and rice; breaded and battered foods such as fish and chicken burgers; salty snack foods such as potato chips.

Limit your intake of sugary beverages. These include soft drinks, fruit drinks, energy drinks and flavoured coffees with added sugar. Drink plenty of water – you can add flavour by adding lemon or lime wedges, orange wedges or other fruit such as berries.

Remember – don’t try to make too many changes at once! Begin by making one or two small positive changes to your daily routine, and continue to build on your successes.