Estrogen and Vitamin D May Protect Metabolic Health After Menopause

After examining the evidence that estrogen and vitamin D work together to promote bone health, new research out of China shows that they may help stave off metabolic syndrome in postmenopausal women.

Metabolic syndrome is a set of risk factors that make a person more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and other conditions, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar.

The latest study, appearing in the journal Menopause, investigated estrogen and vitamin D levels and their link with metabolic syndrome in a cohort of postmenopausal women in Southern China.

The authors conclude that the findings “suggest a synergistic role” for vitamin D and estrogen deficiency in metabolic syndrome in Chinese postmenopausal women.

616 postmenopausal women participated in the study. Their ages ranged from 49 to 86, and none were taking estrogen or vitamin D supplements at the start of data collection.

The researchers measured the women’s blood levels of estradiol — the strongest of the estrogen hormones — and vitamin D, as well as risk factors for metabolic syndrome.

Study Results

The team found a “positive association” between vitamin D and estradiol. In other words, women with low vitamin D levels also had lower levels of estradiol (an estrogenic steroid hormone), and women with high vitamin D levels also had higher levels of estradiol.

The researchers also analyzed which metabolic syndrome factors they treated the most with vitamin D and estradiol. Results:

  • The higher the vitamin D levels, the healthier blood pressure, blood sugar, and lipid measurements go hand in hand.
  • Lower estradiol levels tend to accompany lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride measurements.
  • In addition, analyzes have shown that women with insufficient levels of vitamin D and estradiol are sufficient to have metabolic syndrome.

In another analysis of women’s vitamin D levels, the researchers found that low estradiol increased the risk of metabolic syndrome in women with vitamin D deficiency.

Evaluation of Metabolic Syndrome

The metabolic syndrome includes five risk factors: central obesity, high triglycerides, low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar.

To assess the metabolic syndrome status of the last study, the team used criteria from the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) 2006 definition.

The IDF 2006 definition states that the metabolic syndrome is central to obesity and any of the four other factors.

Central obesity means that there is enough fat in the stomach area that can increase the risk of heart disease more than getting too much fat in other areas of the body, such as the hips.

The IDF 2006 standard for central obesity in Chinese women defines it as a waist greater than or equal to 80 centimeters (cm) or 31.5 inches. For white women in the US, this measure would be greater than or equal to 88 cm or 34.6 inches.

For the other four risk factors, the researchers used the IDF 2006 criteria:

  • Receiving treatment for a blood triglyceride level of 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) or higher, or high triglycerides
  • HDL cholesterol below 50 mg/dl or receiving treatment for high HDL cholesterol
  • blood pressure equal to or greater than 130/85 millimeters or being treated for high blood pressure
  • Measuring fasting blood glucose equal to or greater than 100 mg/dl or taking diabetes treatment
  • HDL cholesterol helps the blood remove cholesterol from the arteries. Too little can increase the risk of heart disease.
  • Fasting blood sugar of 100 mg/dl may be early signs of diabetes, which can increase the risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular health problems.

Major Public Health Issue

Metabolic syndrome is an important public health problem. According to a 2015 JAMA study of the United States population, between 2011 and 2012, close to 35% of adults and half of those aged 60 years and older had metabolic syndrome.

Executive Director of The North American Menopause Society, Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton says the study shows that low estrogen increases the risk of metabolic syndrome in postmenopausal women with insufficient vitamin D levels.

“The Endocrine Society recommends vitamin D levels at 30 for postmenopausal women. [mililitre başına nanogram] recommends.

“Whether adequate vitamin D levels improve non-skeletal cardiovascular or cognitive benefits remains a matter of debate, and answers await randomized clinical trial data.” JoAnn Pinkerton

Medical News Today, Estrogen, vitamin D may protect metabolic health after menopause, 2018.

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