A healthy diet is especially important during the menopause – a period in which the risk of suffering from health problems increases. Various studies analyse the diet of peri- and postmenopausal women in Spain alongside the troubles that come with this transition. The results show that all of those groups studied have a deficient intake of vitamin D.
Marina Pollán, researcher at the Carlos III Institute of Health and one of the authors of the study explains that "biological and physiological changes in women caused by the menopause come with a greater risk of developing health problems in which diet plays an important role. These include diabetes, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer."
Therefore, the analysis of dietary patterns during and after the menopause is of particular interest because of its health implications. However, in Spain there have been very few studies that have assessed the diet of peri- and postmenopausal women.
In order to study these dietary habits, the authors of the study analysed 3574 women from the age of 45 to 68 from October 2007 to July 2008. Each programme contained a minimum of 500 women from seven Spanish cities (La Coruña, Barcelona, Burgos, Palma de Mallorca, Pamplona, Valencia and Zaragoza) and involved a food frequency questionnaire validated by the Spanish population.
The results show that obesity rates stand at 29 per cent whereas 42 per cent of subjects are overweight. Average calorie intake was 2053 kilocalories (with 43 per cent of energy intake coming from carbohydrates, 36 per cent from fats and 20 per cent from proteins). Researchers highlight that practically all of the women received the recommended intake of all the vitamins, apart from D and E.
The case of vitamin D is striking given that none of the groups reached 50 per cent of their RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance). The average total intake was 2.14 micrograms per day, which constitutes just 39 per cent of the RDA for women of this age group.
"A diet with less fat and protein that is high in vegetables, nuts, and carbohydrate-rich foods will even out the energy balance and corrects levels of vitamin D and E," according to the researchers. "This is especially important in places that are far away from the Mediterranean Sea where women have a greater tendency to fall short of the current recommendations."
REHACARE.de; Source: Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology