June 10, 2015
Vitamin D, Calcium Not Effective in Ameliorating
Menopause Symptoms

Portland, OR—In an effort to reduce menopausal symptoms, some women purchase vitamin D and calcium supplements.

Based on a new study, however, pharmacists now have some bad news to share with them:

Women using the supplements had the same number of menopausal symptoms as women who did not. The study was published recently in Maturitas, the official journal of the European Menopause and Andropause Society.

The research involved 34,157 women ages 50 to 79 as part of the Women's Health Initiative, one of the largest clinical trials ever undertaken to address the most common causes of death, disability. and impaired quality of life in menopausal women.

“Our study suggests that women should not rely on vitamin D and calcium supplements to relieve menopausal symptoms, but there are important caveats,” said lead author Erin S. LeBlanc, MD, MPH, of the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland. “The average age of the women at the start of our study was 64, but the average age of menopause is 51, and it’s around that time that the most severe symptoms usually occur.

“If we want to understand vitamin D's effects on the most severe symptoms of menopause, we need to do a study in younger women,” LeBlanc added

For this study, women were followed for an average of 5.7 years, from the mid-1990s to 2005, and interviewed at yearly office visits at 40 clinical trial sites through the United States about more than 20 menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, emotional well-being, fatigue, and sleep disturbances. Participants also filled out extensive health questionnaires.

All women in the study were menopausal, defined as not having had a period for over a year. While symptoms tend to be most acute in a woman's early 50s, they can last for more than a decade, according to background information in the report.

With half of the women taking daily calcium/vitamin D supplements, and the other half receiving placebo pills, those in the intervention arm experienced an average of 6.26 menopausal symptoms compared to an average of 6.32 symptoms for women who received the placebo pills. No differences on overall measures of emotional well-being, fatigue and sleep disturbances between the two groups were detected.

LeBlanc lead an earlier study that found no significant connection between menopausal symptoms and low levels of vitamin D in women’s blood.

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