Low vitamin D in young girls may lead to early menstruation, which is a risk factor for a host of health problems for teen girls as well as women later in life, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University of Michigan School of Public Health measured the blood vitamin D levels in 242 girls ages 5-12 from Bogota, Colombia, and followed them for 30 months.
Girls low on vitamin D were twice as likely to start menstruation during the study than those with sufficient vitamin D, said epidemiologist Eduardo Villamor, associate professor in the U-M SPH.
Early menstruation is a risk factor for behavioural and psychosocial problems in teens.
Also, girls who have an earlier menarche appear to have increased risk of developing cardiometabolic diseases and cancer-particularly breast cancer, as adults.
In the research by Villamor and colleagues, 57 percent of the girls in the vitamin D-deficient group reached menarche during the study, compared to 23 percent in the vitamin D-sufficient group.
In terms of age, girls who were low in vitamin D were about 11.8 years old when they started menstruating, compared to the other group at about age 12.6 years old.
This 10-month difference is substantial, Villamor said, because even though 10 months may not seem like a long time, at that age a lot is happening rapidly to a young girl's body.