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Vitamin D and calcium improve cholesterol profile in menopause

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Vitamin D and calcium supplementation have a number of benefits, including bone health. A new study has found that the supplements improve the levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL; “good cholesterol”) and lowers the levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL; “bad cholesterol”). The findings were published online ahead of print on March 3 in the journal Menopause.

The aim of the study was to determine whether increased serum Vitamin D levels, in response to calcium and Vitamin D supplementation would improve the lipid profile in postmenopausal women. The investigators conducted a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, clinical trial, meaning, the subjects were randomly assigned to receive Vitamin D and calcium supplements or a placebo and neither the women nor the researchers were aware of which women received the supplements. The women received either 1,000 mg of elemental calcium plus 400 IU of Vitamin D daily or a postmenopausal women. All the subjects were postmenopausal women from the general community, including multiple sites in the U.S. They were enrolled between 1993 and 1998 and comprised 300 Caucasian, 200 African-American, and 100 Hispanic women who were randomly selected from the Women's Health Initiative CaD trial. Serum Vitamin D and lipid (fasting plasma triglycerides, HDL cholesterol , and calculated LDL cholesterol levels were measured before and after study entry.

The researchers found that there was a 38% increase in average serum Vitamin D levels after two years for women who received the supplements, compared to the women who received the placebo (18.2 ng/mL difference). Women randomized who received the supplements had a 4.46-mg/dL average decrease in LDL cholesterol. Higher concentrations of Vitamin D were related to higher HDL cholesterol levels, together with lower LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

The authors concluded that supplemental calcium and Vitamin D significantly increases serum Vitamin D levels2 and decreases LDL cholesterol. Women with higher serum Vitamin D levels have more favorable lipid profiles, including increased HDL cholesterol, lower LDL cholesterol, and lower triglycerides. The results support the theory that higher concentrations of serum Vitamin D in response to calcium and Vitamin D supplementation, are related to improved LDL cholesterol.