A study estimated a strong association between vitamin D deficiency and metabolic syndrome in postmenopausal women. The Metabolic syndrome (MetS), described as a cluster of conditions that heighten the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, is estimated to affect approximately 50% of the female population above the age of 50 in the United States.

Researchers detected MetS in 57.8% of the women analyzed with vitamin D insufficiency (20-29 nanograms per milliliter of blood) or deficiency (less than 20 ng/ml) and in only 39.8% of participants with sufficient vitamin D (30 ng/ml or more). MetS are estimated to affect approximately 50% of the female population above the age of 50 in the United States.

The study population consisted of 463 women aged between 45 and 75. They were monitored for two years at FMB-UNESP's Climacteric & Menopause Outpatient Clinic. Their last menstruation occurred at least 12 months previously, and they had no existing or pre-existing heart problems.

Previous studies described the existence of several mechanisms that might explain the effect of vitamin D on the components of MetS. According to the article, the most plausible explanation for the association is that vitamin D influences insulin secretion and sensitivity, which play a major role in MetS.

According to the researchers, however, more studies are needed to confirm the link. "The objective of the study was to evaluate the association between vitamin D deficiency and risk factors for MetS in postmenopausal women," they write in the article. Levels of vitamin D were sufficient in 33.9% of the patients and insufficient or deficient in 66.1%.

A higher proportion of those with vitamin D insufficiency or deficiency had high-grade tumors or metastatic disease. The researchers on this team are advancing the understanding of the effects of vitamin D on chronic diseases such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and consequently MetS, as well as breast cancer.

In recent years, associations have been proposed between vitamin D deficiency and both inflammation and cardiometabolic diseases. However, more information is needed on the link between vitamin D and cardioinflammatory markers in the general population."

According to Nahas, aging is a key factor in vitamin D deficiency. "Exposure to the sun activates a sort of pre-vitamin D in the adipose tissue under the skin," she explained. "Aging leads not just to the loss of muscle mass but also to changes in body composition, and this pre-vitamin D is lost. That's why older people produce less vitamin D even if they get plenty of sunlight."

Forthcoming research planned by the group will focus on isolated vitamin D supplementation and indicators of cardiovascular disease in postmenopausal women. The author suggests that postmenopausal women deserve and require more specific care.

They should seek medical advice on the need for vitamin D supplementation. Hypovitaminosis can have repercussions, be it on breast cancer, vascular disease or metabolic syndrome.