A high intake of dietary vitamin D and calcium may be associated with lower risk of early menopause, the cessation of ovarian function before age 45, says a study.
Early menopause affects about 10 per cent of women and is associated with higher risk of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and early cognitive decline.
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For the study, published online in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the researchers evaluated how vitamin D and calcium intake is associated with the incidence of early menopause in the prospective Nurses’ Health Study II.
The study population includes 116,430 female US registered nurses who were 25-42 years old in 1989 when they responded to a baseline questionnaire.
Since 1989, follow-up questionnaires have assessed nurses’ lifestyle behaviours and medical conditions every two years.
Diet was assessed five times over the 20-year study, allowing the researchers to capture changes in food and nutrient intake over time, said one of the researchers Alexandra Purdue-Smithe from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the US.
During the study period, 2,041 women experienced early menopause.
“Laboratory evidence relating vitamin D to some of the hormonal mechanisms involved in ovarian aging provided the foundation for our hypothesis. However, to our knowledge, no prior epidemiologic studies have explicitly evaluated how vitamin D and calcium intake may be related to risk of early menopause,” Purdue-Smithe said
“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 added.