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Lack of Vitamin D May Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk in Women After Menopause

Lack of Vitamin D May Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk in Women After Menopause

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  • A link between vitamin D deficiency and metabolic syndrome has been identified
  • Postmenopausal women with vitamin D insufficiency or deficiency are at a greater risk of developing metabolic syndrome
  • Vitamin D supplementation can reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome in postmenopausal women

A strong association was found between vitamin D deficiency and metabolic syndrome in postmenopausal women, reveals a new study.

The Metabolic Syndrome (MetS) is a cluster of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease , stroke , and diabetes. MetS is estimated to affect 50 percent of the female population who are above 50 years of age in the United States.


The study was carried out by the research team at São Paulo State University's Botucatu Medical School (FMB-UNESP) in Brazil.

This study aimed at evaluating the association between vitamin D deficiency and risk factors for MetS in postmenopausal women.

Link between Vitamin D and Metabolic Syndrome

The research team detected MetS in about 57.8 percent of women who had vitamin D insufficiency, i.e., 20-29 nanograms per milliliter of blood or deficiency, i.e., less than 20 ng/ml.

Only about 39.8 percent of participants were found to have sufficient vitamin D, i.e., 30 ng/ml or more.

The results of the study supported by the São Paulo Research Foundation - FAPESP were published in the journal Maturitas.

In this study, about 463 women who were in the age group of 45 and 75 were included in the study.

The participants were monitored for two years by the research team at FMB-UNESP's Climacteric & Menopause Outpatient Clinic.

The participants did not have any existing or pre-existing heart problems, and their last menstruation occurred at least 12 months before taking part in the study.

In this study, a method was adopted to indicate whether or not the patient had MetS. The typical parameters for MetS diagnosis include:
  • Waist circumference (above 88 cm)
  • High levels of blood pressure (above 130/85 mmHg)
  • High levels of blood sugar (fasting glucose above 100 mg/dL)
  • Abnormal levels of triglyceride (above 150 mg/dL) and
  • Cholesterol levels (HDL below 50 mg/dL)
The participants were diagnosed with MetS, if they met three or more of these criteria.

Need for Vitamin D in Postmenopausal Women

"We measured the participants' blood vitamin D levels and also analyzed parameters indicating MetS. We found that the lower the level of blood vitamin D, the greater the occurrence of MetS. The results suggest that supplementing and maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D in postmenopausal women can reduce the risk of disease," said Eliana Aguiar Petri Nahas, a professor in FMB-UNESP's Department of Gynecology & Obstetrics and one of the authors of the study.

In previous studies, several mechanisms were found that can explain the effect of vitamin D on the components of MetS.

"The vitamin D receptor is expressed in insulin-secreting pancreatic beta cells and peripheral target tissues such as skeletal muscle and adipose tissue. Vitamin D deficiency can compromise the capacity of beta cells to convert proinsulin to insulin ," wrote the researchers of the FAPESP-funded project.

According to this study, the possible explanation for the link between vitamin D and MetS is that vitamin D influences insulin secretion and sensitivity. However, further research is required to confirm the association, reveals the research team.

What is Vitamin D Deficiency?

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient to maintain healthy bones and teeth and is available only in certain foods. If dietary intake or supplementation of vitamin D is inadequate, it gives rise to vitamin D deficiency.

The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency has been increasing, and about one billion people were found to have vitamin D deficiency, worldwide.

Traditionally, vitamin D is referred as "Sunshine Vitamin." It is produced endogenously by the skin on exposure to the sun (UVB radiation).

It is an essential public health issue because vitamin D deficiency is an independent risk factor for total mortality in the general population.

Vitamin D deficiency is linked to increasing the risk of common cancers, autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases and hypertension.

Sources of Vitamin D (Diet and Supplements)

The dietary sources of vitamin D include food and dietary supplements. There are a few naturally occurring food sources of vitamin D. These include:
  • Fatty fish
  • Fish liver oil
  • Egg yolk
Some foods are, however, fortified with vitamin D. 

Reference :
  1. Eneida Boteon Schmitt, Jorge Nahas-Neto, Flavia Bueloni-Dias, et al. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with metabolic syndrome in postmenopausal women.Maturitas (2018)DOI:10.1016/j.maturitas.2017.10.011

Source: Medindia

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