Vitamin D deficiency is higher among certain demographic segments, including women, the elderly, and the obese. All three groups also share an increased risk of pelvic floor problems, including urinary incontinence. Could there be a connection? Perhaps so, according to recent research.
A study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology compared vitamin D levels with incidence of various forms of pelvic floor disorder among 1,881 women, average age 48. Those with low levels of vitamin D (characterized as less than 30 nanograms per milliliter, or ng/ml) had a 170% increased risk of urinary incontinence, compared to those with higher blood levels. Why might this be? As a hormone, vitamin D supports a myriad of bodily functions, including maintenance of muscle and bone. As a result, deficiency could undermine the muscular infrastructure of the pelvis needed for urinary control.
Related research suggests that losing weight could result in as much as a 47% decrease in episodes of incontinence, perhaps by reducing the pressure that excess adipose tissue places on the pelvis - and by increasing levels of vitamin D: Maintaining levels of vitamin D may lower your risk of other ailments, including fractures, tooth loss, depression, chronic pain, and even certain cancers.
Winter’s shorter, colder days make it harder to get enough vitamin D from the sun - but our Portobello Mushroom Powder provides a whole food, vegan, natural alternative, with 150% of your vitamin D needs in each teaspoon.
Founded by David H. Murdock, Chairman of the Dole Food Company, the Dole Nutrition Institute provides consumers with educational resources on the benefits of a plant-based diet. These include an award-winning newsletter, Dole Nutrition News (2.5 million circulation), the recently published Dole Nutrition Handbook, videos, brochures, cookbooks and more.
The researchers, from Temple University, were surprised to learn that while nearly three-quarters of all women reported suffering from one or more pelvic floor disorders, 70 percent of those had not sought medical help. And by the time they did see the doctor - usually triggered by the onset of incontinence - they were suffering from multiple uro-gynecological problems.
Minor incontinence and other pelvic floor disorders usually begin after a woman gives birth. Then, as women age, the bladder stretches and pelvic muscles weaken, especially if they don’t exercise. Uterine or rectal prolapse and incontinence can often ensue. Significant risks for pelvic floor disorders were older age, high body mass index, number of vaginal births, and the use of forceps.
Researcher Jack Mydlo, at Temple University School of Medicine, said that of all pelvic floor disorders, it was incontinence that brought most women to the doctor. “They cannot tolerate leaking urine and the disruption to their daily lives. But incontinence is usually just the tip of the iceberg. Many are also suffering from such pelvic floor disorders as uterine or rectal prolapse.”
What are the types of urinary incontinence (UI)?
Stress incontinence – Leakage happens with coughing, sneezing, exercising, laughing, lifting heavy things, and other movements that put pressure on the bladder. This is the most common type of incontinence in women. It is often caused by physical changes from pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause. It can be treated and sometimes cured.
Urge incontinence – This is sometimes called “overactive bladder.” Leakage usually happens after a strong, sudden urge to urinate. This may occur when you don’t expect it, such as during sleep, after drinking water, or when you hear or touch running water.
Functional incontinence – People with this type of incontinence may have problems thinking, moving, or speaking that keep them from reaching a toilet. For example, a person with Alzheimer’s disease may not plan a trip to the bathroom in time to urinate. A person in a wheelchair may be unable to get to a toilet in time.
Overflow incontinence – Urine leakage happens because the bladder doesn’t empty completely. Overflow incontinence is less common in women.
Mixed incontinence – This is 2 or more types of incontinence together (usually stress and urge incontinence).
Transient incontinence – Urine leakage happens for a short time due to an illness (such as a bladder infection or pregnancy). The leaking stops when the illness is treated.
Source: Dole Nutrition Institute