Early onset of menopause has been associated with several chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, breast cancer and osteoporosis. Few modifiable risk factors associated with menopause have been identified.
A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s School of Public Health and Health Sciences found that higher dietary vitamin D was associated with a decreased risk of early onset of menopause.
The researchers examined the vitamin D intake and incidence of early menopause in 116,430 nurses from the Nurses’ Health Study I. Every 2 and 4 years since 1989, participants completed lifestyle reports and food frequency questionnaires that measured their vitamin D and calcium intake.
This is what the researchers found:
- A total of 2,041 of the women in the study experienced early onset of menopause.
- After adjusting for potential confounding factors, there was a 17% decreased risk of early menopause in those who had higher dietary intake of vitamin D (528 IU/day; P=0.03).
- There was no association between risk of early menopause and vitamin D supplementation (p > 0.05).
The researchers concluded:
“Few modifiable risk factors for early menopause have been identified, but emerging data suggest that high vitamin D intake may reduce risk.”
Since vitamin D supplementation did not elicit a protective effect from early menopause in this analysis, these findings suggest another component in vitamin D rich foods may be responsible for this relationship. Additionally, the researchers did not evaluate the sun exposure habits of the participants, which may provide more insight on the matter.
Further research is needed to determine whether vitamin D may decrease the incidence of early onset of menopause.