Vitamin D and calcium supplements do not appear to reduce menopausal symptoms in older women, reports a new study published in Maturitas, the official journal of the European Menopause and Andropause Society.

The study of 34,157 women aged 50–79 is part of the Women’s Health Initiative, which is one of the largest clinical trials to evaluate the most common causes of death, disability and impaired quality of life in menopausal women. Researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, OR followed the participants (all of whom were menopausal) from the mid-1990s to 2005 for an average of 5.7 years and assessed over 20 menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, emotional well-being, fatigue, and sleep disturbances. Half of the women were assigned to daily calcium/vitamin D supplements while the other half received a placebo.

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Women in the intervention arm reported an average of 6.26 menopausal symptoms over the course of the study compared to an average of 6.32 symptoms in the placebo group. No differences in overall measures of emotional well-being, fatigue, and sleep disturbances were observed between the two groups.

Lead author Erin S. LeBlanc, MD, MPH stated that the results suggest that although women should not rely on vitamin D and calcium supplements to relieve menopausal symptoms, the age of participants in this study could have impacted the findings. While the average age of menopause is 51, the average age of the women in this study was 64; a study of younger women is needed to better understand vitamin D’s potential effects on the most severe symptoms of menopause that typically occur around age 51.

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