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Vitamin D from Dairy Consumption May Protect Against Early Menopause

11/7/2017 10:37:17 AM
Early menopause is defined as the natural cessation of menses before the age of 45 years. It is estimated to affect approximately 10% of women and is associated with a greater risk for osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and cognitive decline. Early menopause likely results from a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors, including diet. It is plausible that calcium and vitamin D may influence the risk of early menopause, as these nutrients have been implicated in other reproductive conditions, including polycystic ovarian syndrome, endometriosis, and premenstrual syndrome.
 
Data from the Nurses’ Health Study II (NHS2) was evaluated to assess the risk of early menopause in relation to intakes of vitamin D and calcium from supplements, overall diet, dairy, and nondairy sources. The NHS2 is a prospective study of female registered nurses in the United States, who were 25-42 years old in 1989 at the time of enrollment. For the current analysis, 86,234 women who were premenopausal in 1989 were followed prospectively for more than 20 years. Over that time, 2041 of them entered early menopause.
 
Vitamin D intake from diet and from dairy sources was associated with a significantly reduced risk of early menopause, such that consumption of about 2.5  8-ounce servings of vitamin D-fortified milk per day decreased the risk of early menopause by 18% (HR=0.82; 95% CI, 0.71-0.94). After adjusting for age, smoking, body mass index, and other factors, dietary vitamin D intake in the highest quintile decreased the risk of early menopause by 17% (HR=0.84; 95% CI, 0.72-0.95) compared with consumption in the lowest quintile. Calcium intake from diet and from dairy sources was associated with a borderline significantly reduced risk of early menopause, showing a similar but weaker trend than vitamin D consumption.
 
Nondairy sources of vitamin D and calcium were not significantly associated with risk of early menopause. Supplemental vitamin D was not associated with risk of early menopause, and supplemental calcium intake (≥400mg/d) was positively associated with early menopause.
 
The authors of this study acknowledge that it was impossible to separate the effects of dietary vitamin D from calcium because the 2 nutrients are typically present together in the same foods. They also acknowledge that the inverse association between dairy consumption and risk of early menopause may be mediated by other components of milk, such as steroid hormones. Nevertheless, this large, prospective study provides evidence that dietary consumption of calcium and vitamin D, particularly from dairy sources, may provide some protection against early menopause.
 
Reference: Purdue-Smithe AC, Whitcomb BW, Szegda KL, et al. Vitamin D and calcium intake and risk of early menopause. Am J Clin Nutr. 2017;105(6):1493-1501.