CLEVELAND—A new study from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) shows no significant connection between vitamin D levels and menopause symptoms, according to a new study published in the journal Menopause.
Researchers analyzed the relationship between the blood levels of vitamin D and a number of menopause symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats, sleep disturbance, concentration and forgetfulness in 530 women who participated in the calcium and vitamin D WHI trial.
Researchers decided to explore a possible link between the two after prior studies have implied some relationship. For example, breast cancer patients with higher vitamin D levels have fewer hot flashes and other symptoms than women with lower levels. Supplementing vitamin D can improve mood and protect against depletion of serotonin, which plays a role in regulating body heat. And vitamin D deficiency can result in muscle and joint pain.
Furthermore, estrogen plays a role in activating vitamin D, meaning that the estrogen deficiency that comes with menopause could worsen any problems with vitamin D deficiency.
Researchers founds the number of symptoms and vitamin D levels had a borderline significant relationship at first, but after analysts adjusted for multiple comparisons, the association disappeared. And in looking at multiple comparisons, no individual menopause symptoms were significantly associated with vitamin D either.
Currently, vitamin D daily requirements for adults is 400 to 600 IU per day. But a large and growing body of scientific opinion says the current vitamin D RDA needs to be elevated to 1,000 to 2,000 IU per day to gain maximal benefit from the many biological activities attributed to vitamin D. With almost 50% of Americans deficient in vitamin D—due in part to reduced sun-exposure rates resulting from fear of skin cancer—it's critical to provide consumers alternate ways to increase intake of this critical nutrient, possibly via foods or beverages fortified with vitamin D.
However, one of the biggest questions being asked now is whether vitamin D supplementation can treat diseases associated with vitamin D deficiency. Many ongoing studies are testing this hypothesis in cancer, multiple sclerosis, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Multiple well-controlled clinical studies will be needed to clearly demonstrate that vitamin D supplementation will improve conditions brought on by vitamin D deficiency. A Gallery from Food Product Design's FoodTech Toolbox, "Vitamin D: Illuminating the Sunshine Vitamin," dives into this critical nutrient and the important health issue that can be addressed through increasing exposure to sunlight or by consuming higher levels.