Vitamin D and calcium intake and risk of early menopause

Am J Clin Nutr. 2017 Jun;105(6):1493-1501. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.116.145607. Epub 2017 May 10.


Background: Early menopause, defined as the cessation of ovarian function before the age of 45 y, affects ∼10% of women and is associated with higher risk of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and other conditions. Few modifiable risk factors for early menopause have been identified, but emerging data suggest that high vitamin D intake may reduce risk.Objective: We evaluated how intakes of vitamin D and calcium are associated with the incidence of early menopause in the prospective Nurses' Health Study II (NHS2).Design: Intakes of vitamin D and calcium from foods and supplements were measured every 4 y with the use of a food-frequency questionnaire. Cases of incident early menopause were identified from all participants who were premenopausal at baseline in 1991; over 1.13 million person-years, 2041 women reported having natural menopause before the age of 45 y. We used Cox proportional hazards regression to evaluate relations between intakes of vitamin D and calcium and incident early menopause while accounting for potential confounding factors.Results: After adjustment for age, smoking, and other factors, women with the highest intake of dietary vitamin D (quintile median: 528 IU/d) had a significant 17% lower risk of early menopause than women with the lowest intake [quintile median: 148 IU/d; HR: 0.83 (95% CI: 0.72, 0.95); P-trend = 0.03]. Dietary calcium intake in the highest quintile (median: 1246 mg/d) compared with the lowest (median: 556 mg/d) was associated with a borderline significantly lower risk of early menopause (HR: 0.87; 95% CI: 0.76, 1.00; P-trend = 0.03). Associations were stronger for vitamin D and calcium from dairy sources than from nondairy dietary sources, whereas high supplement use was not associated with lower risk.Conclusions: Findings suggest that high intakes of dietary vitamin D and calcium may be modestly associated with a lower risk of early menopause. Further studies evaluating 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations, other dairy constituents, and early menopause are warranted.

Keywords: 25-hydroxyvitamin D; anovulation; calcium; dairy; menopause; menstrual cycle; ovarian function; vitamin D.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Calcium / therapeutic use*
  • Calcium, Dietary / therapeutic use*
  • Dairy Products
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Menopause*
  • Micronutrients
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Vitamin D / therapeutic use*
  • Vitamins / therapeutic use


  • Calcium, Dietary
  • Micronutrients
  • Vitamins
  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium