Needless to say, Vitamin D is essential for leading a healthy life. Now much evidence has come to light revealing yet another health advantage of this essential nutrient. Higher dietary vitamin D intake can reduce the risk of early menopause, suggests a new US study.
More popularly called the ‘sunshine’ vitamin, vitamin D is primarily produced through direct sunlight exposure. This nutrient can also be obtained from food sources that are naturally high in vitamin D, such as milk, soy, fish, cheese, egg yolks etc.
Menopause marks the time in a woman’s life when she stops having a period, and she is no longer fertile. The menopause usually happens between the ages of 48 and 55. Some women, however, experience menopause before the age of 40. This “premature” or early menopause is known to increase a woman’s risk for cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and early decline in cognitive abilities.
The latest study, carried out by epidemiology doctoral candidate Alexandra Purdue-Smithe and her advisor Elizabeth Bertone-Johnson the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s School of Public Health and Health Sciences, in association with colleagues at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, claims to have found that an increased consumption of dietary vitamin D and calcium may lower risk of early menopause.
For the study, the experts evaluated data from the prospective Nurses’ Health Study II to determine how vitamin D and calcium intake influences the incidence of early menopause. They monitored 116,430 female US registered nurses between the ages of 25 and 49.
Throughout the 20-year study period, the participating nurses reported about their lifestyle behaviours and medical conditions every two years through questionnaires. In order to see changes in nurses’ food and nutrient intake, their diet was assessed five times over the study period.
A total of 2,041 women identified to experience early menopause during the study period.
The researchers found, the nurses who had the most amount of calcium in their diets were at a 13 percent reduced risk of experiencing the menopause by the age of 45. A high intake of dietary vitamin D also appeared to lower this risk by 17 percent.
“We found that after adjusting for a variety of different factors, vitamin D from food sources, such as fortified dairy and fatty fish, was associated with a 17 per cent lower risk of early menopause when comparing the highest intake group to the lowest intake group,” Purdue-Smithe said.
“Calcium, we think, could also influence ovarian ageing, because it is present with hormones in cows’ milk like progesterone, which may also help to reduce risk of early menopause,” she added.
Findings from the study are published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.