By: Robert M. Blair, Ph.D.
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, “metabolic syndrome is the name for a group of risk factors that raises your risk for heart disease and other health problems”. The most common risk factors for the metabolic syndrome are obesity and an inactive lifestyle, but vitamin D may be a linking factor for women after menopause.
One recent study explored the possible relationship between vitamin D status and the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome in postmenopausal women . In this study, blood levels of vitamin D, glucose, triglycerides, and HDL-cholesterol were determined and blood pressure and waist size were measured. The relationships between these measures were then analyzed.
The results of this analysis demonstrated that 46% of the women in this study had the metabolic syndrome. Additionally, it was reported that 19% of the postmenopausal women were vitamin D deficient and that 51% had insufficient vitamin D blood levels. It was also shown that poor vitamin D status (insufficiency or deficiency) was predominant in postmenopausal women with a waist size of 80 cm or more (68%), a fasting blood glucose level of 110 mg/dL or higher (84%), triglycerides of 150 mg/dL or higher (75%), HDL-cholesterol lower than 50 mg/dL (74%), and a blood pressure 130/85 mm Hg or more (70%).
When the investigators looked only at the postmenopausal women diagnosed with the metabolic syndrome, it was discovered that 75% of them had either insufficient vitamin D levels (22%) or were vitamin D deficient (53%). Additionally, it was noted that postmenopausal women with the metabolic syndrome has significantly lower vitamin D levels than postmenopausal women without the metabolic syndrome.
What It Means:
Overall, the results of this study demonstrated a high prevalence of both the metabolic syndrome and poor vitamin D status among this group of postmenopausal women. While no cause and effect can be determined by this type of study, the higher rate of vitamin D deficiency/insufficiency in postmenopausal women with the metabolic syndrome suggests that low vitamin D levels may be an additional risk factor for the metabolic syndrome.
This study further demonstrates the importance of getting enough vitamin D.
Srimani S, Saha I, Chaudhuri D. Prevalence and association of metabolic syndrome and vitamin D deficiency among postmenopausal women in a rural block of West Bengal, India. PLOS One 12(11): e0188331. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0188331