- Early menopause is the cessation of ovarian function before 45 years of age
- Dietary intake of vitamin D and calcium can prevent early menopause, finds new study
- However, supplements of vitamin D and calcium did not have an impact on lowering the risk of early menopause
A high intake of dietary vitamin D and calcium can lower the risk of early menopause, finds a new study led by epidemiologists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst's School of Public Health and Health Sciences.
Early menopause is the cessation of ovarian function before the age of 45. About 10% of women undergo early menopause, which is associated with higher risk of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and early cognitive decline.
‘Early menopause can be prevented by following a diet rich in vitamin D and calcium.’
Effect of Vitamin D and Calcium in Reducing the Risk of Early Menopause
The research team comprised of doctoral candidate Alexandra Purdue-Smithe and her advisor Elizabeth Bertone-Johnson, with colleagues at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, and Harvard Medical School. The team evaluated how vitamin D and calcium intake is linked to the incidence of early menopause in the prospective Nurses' Health Study II.
The study population involved 116,430 female US registered nurses who were 25 to 42 years old in 1989 when they responded to a baseline questionnaire. The participants' lifestyle behaviors and medical conditions were assessed using a follow-up questionnaire every two years.
Over the 20-year study, the participants' dietary information was assessed five times, allowing the researchers to identify changes in food and nutrient intake over time. During the follow-up, 2,041 women experienced early menopause.
The research team found that women with high levels of vitamin D were 17% less likely to undergo menopause before the age of 45 compared with women with least amount of vitamin D in their diet. Similarly, for calcium, women who included more calcium in their diet were 13% less likely to undergo early menopause.
Purdue-Smithe said, "Laboratory evidence relating vitamin D to some of the hormonal mechanisms involved in ovarian aging provided the foundation for our hypothesis. However, to our knowledge, no prior epidemiologic studies have explicitly evaluated how vitamin D and calcium intake may be related to a risk of early menopause."
"After adjusting for a variety of different factors, we found that vitamin D from food sources, such as fortified dairy and fatty fish, was associated with a 17 percent lower risk of early menopause when comparing the highest intake group to the lowest intake group."
High intake of vitamin D and calcium from dietary sources may act as a marker for better nutrition and overall health.
The research team also considered other factors such as vitamin protein intake, alcohol consumption, body mass index, and smoking.
"The large size of this study allowed us to consider a variety of potential correlates of a healthy lifestyle that might explain our findings; however, adjusting for these factors made almost no difference in our estimates," added Purdue-Smithe.
Early menopause increases the risk of adverse health outcomes. According to the nutritional and reproductive epidemiologists, early menopause is problematic as women are increasingly delaying childbearing into their last reproductive years. Fertility declines during the 10 years leading up to menopause. Early menopause can have profound psychological and financial implications for couples who are unable to conceive. Thus, it is important to identify modifiable risk factors for early menopause, said Purdue-Smithe.
The research team hopes to conduct further study to identify the association with individual dairy intake and early menopause.
The findings of the study are published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
- Alexandra C Purdue-Smithe, Brian W Whitcomb, Kathleen L Szegda, Maegan E Boutot, JoAnn E Manson, Susan E Hankinson, Bernard A Rosner, Lisa M Troy, Karin B Michels and Elizabeth R Bertone-Johnson. Vitamin D and Calcium Intake and Risk of Early Menopause. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. (2017). DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.116.145607