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Calcium and vitamin D may improve cholesterol in postmenopausal women

By Nathan Gray+

06-Mar-2014

Supplementation with calcium and vitamin D after menopause could help to improve women's cholesterol profiles, according to new research.

The study, published in the journal Menopause, set out to evaluate whether increased serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25OHD3) concentrations, in response to calcium and vitamin D (CaD) supplementation, are associated with improved lipid measures in postmenopausal women.

Led by Dr Peter Schnatz at The Reading Hospital and Medical Center, USA, the team showed that supplementation with CaD containing 1,000 mg of calcium and 400 IU of vitamin D3 was associated with significant increases in blood plasma 25-OD-D3 levels and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels that were between 4 and 5 points lower than placebo.

“Supplemental CaD significantly increases 25OHD3 concentrations and decreases LDL-cholesterol,” wrote the team. “Women with higher 25OHD3 concentrations have more favourable lipid profiles, including increased HDL- cholesterol, lower LDL- cholesterol, and lower fasting plasma triglycerides.”

Schnatz and his colleagues said the study results support the theory that higher concentrations of 25OHD3, in response to supplementation with calcium and vitamin D, are associated with improved cholesterol.

"The results of this study should inspire even more women to be conscientious about their calcium and vitamin D intake—a simple and safe way to improve health,” commented Dr Margery Gass, executive director of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

Study details

The findings come from an analysis of data from a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-group trial designed to test the effects of CaD supplementation (1,000 mg of elemental calcium + 400 IU of vitamin D3 daily) versus placebo in postmenopausal women. The analysis data comes from 300 white, 200 African-American, and 100 Hispanic participants who were randomly selected from the Women's Health Initiative CaD trial. The team looked at the relationship between taking supplements and levels of vitamin D and cholesterol in women who had both their cholesterol levels and their vitamin D levels measured.

Schnatz and his team found that women who took the supplement were more than twice as likely to have vitamin D levels of at least 30 ng/mL when compared to women who took the placebo.

Supplement users also had LDL- cholesterol levels that were between 4 and 5 points lower than those receiving placebo, said the team. In addition, those with the highest levels of blood vitamin D were found to have higher levels of HDL- cholesterol and lower levels of triglycerides.

Whether these positive effects of supplemental calcium and vitamin D on cholesterol will translate into benefits such as lower rates of cardiovascular disease for women after menopause remains to be seen, said the authors; however they commented that their results are a good reminder that women at higher risk for vitamin D deficiency should consider supplementation.

Source: Menopause
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000000188
“Calcium/vitamin D supplementation, serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations, and cholesterol profiles in the Women's Health Initiative calcium/vitamin D randomized trial”
Authors: Schnatz, Peter F. Jiang, Xuezhi, et al

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