This week passed quickly and before I knew it my Friday website was due. As I scanned the various medical journals, I found an interesting article in the Journal of the North American Menopause Society. The long but very comprehensive title of the article is “Calcium/vitamin D supplementation, serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D concentrations, and cholesterol profiles in the Women’s Health Initiative calcium/vitamin D randomized trial.”
The authors (17 of them in multiple centers in the US) wanted to evaluate whether increased levels of active vitamin D concentrations in the blood, the 25 hydroxy form (25OHD3), became elevated after calcium/Vitamin D supplementation and were associated with improved cholesterol levels in postmenopausal women.
The randomized, placebo-controlled trial included women already in the Women’s Health Initiative Study (WHI) and who had been enrolled in 1993 and 1998. The group they specifically studied included 300 white women, 200 African-American and 100 Hispanic women that were randomly selected from the larger WHI trial. They measured their serum (blood) vitamin D levels before starting the study as well as their lipid levels which included fasting triglycerides (TG), high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL- C) and calculated low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL- C) levels before and after calcium vitamin/D supplement.
After two years, they compared these blood tests for the women who took 1000 mg of elemental calcium and 400 units of vitamin D (CaD) and those who took a placebo. They found that those who took supplemental CaD significantly increased their vitamin D levels and decreased their LDL- C levels. The women with the higher vitamin D concentrations had more favorable lipid profiles including an increase in their HDL-C (the good cholesterol), lower LDL- C and lower TG.
If you want the numbers… In the study the women on CaD increased their vitamin D levels by 38% compared with those on placebo and those randomized to CaD decreased their LDL- C by 4.46 mg/DL. And if the serum concentrations of vitamin D increased significantly then all three parameters of the lipids improved.
They did add one thing… That many of the women were on hormone therapy and there is the possibility that there is a synergistic relationship between vitamin D and estrogen therapy which could have improved the impact of Vitamin D on lipid levels.
Bottom line: According to this study as well as many others, your vitamin D level is important to your health and improving it with supplements may have a positive impact on your lipid profile and ultimately (and I have to interject “a perhaps” here, since this has not been sufficiently studied) on coronary heart disease. I usually suggest that my patients follow “the one and one” rule. Make sure you get 1000 to 1200 mg of calcium through diet or supplements and take 1000 units of vitamin D.