There’s more evidence that having enough Vitamin D and estrogen working together in the body is a major factor in keeping older women healthy.
The combination has already proven to improve bone health in women.
Now, new research published this week in Menopause, the Journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), shows that the same combination can help prevent metabolic syndrome — a constellation of conditions that increases the risk of stroke, heart disease, and diabetes in postmenopausal women.
Metabolic syndrome affects 30 per cent to 60 per cent of postmenopausal women.
The loss of estrogen appears to be linked to the progression of abdominal obesity and heart disease that leads to metabolic syndrome.
This is why some researchers recommend estradiol treatment for women who are fewer than six years postmenopausal as a means of preventing heart disease.
Vitamin D has also been associated with markers of metabolic syndrome, including obesity, hyperglycemia, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
Supplementation with vitamin D has been shown to reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome over a 20-year follow-up.
Because the synergistic benefits of vitamin D and estrogen are already documented to improve bone health in women, researchers in China decided to investigate whether the same interaction might affect metabolic syndrome.
Their study included 616 postmenopausal women aged 49 to 86 years who were not taking estrogen and vitamin D/calcium supplements at the beginning of the trial.
The study showed a positive correlation between vitamin D and estradiol.
Higher vitamin D was associated with a favourable lipid profile, blood pressure, and glucose level. Estradiol was associated with lower cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure.
Together, these results suggest a synergistic role of vitamin D and estradiol deficiency in developing metabolic syndrome in postmenopausal women.
“In this cross-sectional study, low estradiol increased the risk of metabolic syndrome in postmenopausal women who had vitamin D deficiency,” says Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, NAMS executive director. “The Endocrine Society recommends vitamin D levels of 30 ng/mL for postmenopausal women. “
Postmenopausal women may want to ask their health providers to include testing their Vitamin D levels as part of blood tests. And women entering menopause or within six years of menopause may want to ask about the risks and benefits of estradiol treatments.