News article

Calcium and vitamin D improve cholesterol in postmenopausal women

Posted:  Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Are you postmenopausal woman and already taking calcium and Vitamin D for bone health, you will gain from these nutrients: Improved cholesterol. Recent study from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), published online in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), higher levels of vitamin D after menopause may help maintain healthy cholesterol.

We've been discussing calcium and vitamin D for bone wellbeing throughout recent years, and a large number of us are making a point to consume a calcium-rich eating regimen, splash up a little sun for vitamin D, or take supplements for each. It's pleasant to imagine that these solid propensities may additionally profit our cholesterol levels.

Women in this recent study took either 1,000 mg of calcium and 400 IU of vitamin D3 or a placebo (latent substitute) day by day. Scientists then measured their vitamin D blood and cholesterol levels to check whether the supplements influenced numbers. This analysis looked at the relationship between taking supplements and levels of vitamin D and cholesterol in some 600 of the women who had both their cholesterol levels and their vitamin D levels measured.

The women who took the supplement were more than twice as likely to have vitamin D levels of at least 30 ng/mL (normal according to the Institute of Medicine) as were the women who took the placebo. Supplement users also had low-density lipoprotein (LDL—the "bad" cholesterol) levels that were between 4 and 5 points lower. The investigators discovered, in addition, that among supplement users, those with higher blood levels of vitamin D had higher levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL—the "good" cholesterol) and lower levels of triglycerides (although for triglycerides to be lower, blood levels of vitamin D had to reach a threshold of about 15 ng/mL).

Taking the calcium and vitamin D supplements was particularly useful in increasing vitamin D levels in older women who had a low intake. Anyhow their life style also played a major role. The supplements also did more to raise vitamin D levels in women who did not smoke and who drank less alcohol.

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, but these results, said the authors, are a good reminder that women at higher risk for vitamin D deficiency should consider taking calcium and vitamin D.

"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. One action can lead to multiple benefits!" says NAMS Executive Director Margery Gass, MD.

Our take-home message: Healthy lifestyle choices might offer even more benefit than we realize—in this case, higher blood levels of vitamin D and potentially healthier cholesterol profiles through calcium and vitamin D supplementation, especially once women reach menopause.