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Vitamin D deficiency linked to early onset menstruation

Posted on: September 8, 2011   by  John Cannell, MD


One of the modern mysteries of medical science is the reason for the earlier and earlier onset of first menstruation. This has been occurring for about the last 35 years throughout the world. It is important because girls with early menstruation are at higher risk for obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and breast and uterine cancers. We are talking about a serious mystery.

A group from the University of Michigan School of Public Health, led by Dr. Eduardo Villamor, may have just solved the mystery. First, they found a clue. Girls had earlier onset if they lived far from the equator, while having later onset if they lived close to the equator. Logically, they measured vitamin D levels on 242 girls and followed them for almost three years to see if the ones with lower vitamin D levels had earlier onset of menstruation.

Villamor E, Marin C, Mora-Plazas M, Baylin A. Vitamin D deficiency and age at menarche: a prospective study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Aug 10.

They found that girls with vitamin D levels less than 10 ng/ml began their periods almost a year earlier than girls with levels more than 30 ng/ml. Yet another mystery solved by vitamin D.

Their conclusion is direct and to the point:

“In consideration of the health risks associated with early menarche, the benefits of delaying the onset of menses through a relatively inexpensive intervention such as vitamin D supplementation may be substantial.”

Parents, get your daughters outside without sunblock in the warmer months, when the sun is high in the sky. In the colder months, make sure they take vitamin D, 1,000 IU for every 25 pounds of body weight, rounded up, so a 30-pound child takes 2,000 IU/day and a 60-pound child takes 3,000 IU/day.


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