Category Archives: Hormone Treatment
Osteoporosis, a medical condition in which bones become fragile and brittle, is one of the main health risks associated with menopause. Generally, osteoporosis is caused by a deficiency of calcium, vitamin D, or it can be a result of hormonal changes. Menopausal women have lower than normal estrogen and progesterone natural levels, which can cause osteoporosis, as well as other related symptoms. One of the most common treatment methods for menopausal women is hormone replacement therapy. Many endocrinologists also recommend a daily supplement of vitamin D3 to help prevent and fight osteoporosis and its symptoms.
What is vitamin D3?
Vitamin D, as a whole, is a family of fat-soluble vitamins which play a major role in many critical body functions and organs. It is the chief regulator of calcium in your body and it helps regulate how your immune system and cells work. Vitamin D is synthesized and stored when the skin is exposed to natural sunlight, but it can also be obtained from whole milk or fish. There are two main compounds of vitamin D: vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Experts agree that vitamin D3 is better at raising vitamin D levels in the blood and has a more important role in calcium metabolism and homeostasis than vitamin D2. In children, a vitamin D deficiency can be unhealthy, while in adults, it can lead to prostate and colon cancer, depression, obesity and osteoporosis.
Vitamin D3 and Menopausal Women
The role of vitamin D and calcium supplements for menopausal women has been controversial during the past decades, but recent studies have shown that they are beneficial. Statistics show that 1 in 2 women over the age of 50 experience some sort of osteoporosis and almost all of them may experience a related bone fracture (according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force).
Menopausal women who are on hormone replacement therapy and also take daily calcium and vitamin D supplements have a 40 percent reduction of osteoporosis-related bone fractures when compared to women who do not take any additional supplements. This data confirms that a regular intake of vitamin D and calcium supplements can be life-changing for tens of thousands of women currently on hormone replacement therapy.
While the benefits of vitamin D are unquestionable, there is an ongoing debate about whether the vitamin is better to be obtained naturally, through a normal diet or through pill supplements. Some endocrinologists suggest that a healthy diet rich in vitamin D should be better, while others stress that vitamin D cannot be easily obtained through diet and a supplement is necessary, especially in colder climates. Similarly, experts agree that vitamin D supplements should be taken together with calcium supplements, as there are no discernible benefits when these supplements are taken on their own.
Another intriguing finding is that women on HRT who are taking vitamin D together with calcium have a lower risk of hip fractures (up to 57 percent) when compared to women who don’t take any additional supplements. Other studies confirm these numbers; for instance, a separate study has come up with these figures:
- a hip fracture rate of 11 per 10,000 per year for women on HRT and calcium+vitamin D supplements
- a hip fracture rate of 18 per 10,000 per year for women on HRT without additional supplements
- a hip fracture rate of 25 per 10,000 per year for women taking only calcium+vitamin D supplements
- a hip fracture rate of 22 per 10,000 per year for women not on any type of therapy
When it comes to dosage, the general consensus is that a daily intake of 1,200 milligrams of calcium, together with a dose of 400 IU of vitamin D, is the most beneficial for the majority of patients. Larger doses can be beneficial, but only on short term. Obviously, the best dosage should be determined by your endocrinologist, after taking into consideration your age, your symptoms and other factors.
According to Dr. Jill Rabin, chief ambulatory care, gynecology, and obstetrics at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York, menopausal patients on hormone replacement therapy should take vitamin D and calcium supplements, as long as they do not cause side effects, such as constipation.
“We can get a lot of calcium from our diet, and that’s probably the best way to get it, but if you can take a supplement without ill effects, you can certainly continue. And women considering taking hormone therapy might also want to add supplements.” Dr. Jill Rabin added.
While experts continue to debate and evaluate whether hormone replacement therapy is a good method to deal with menopause symptoms, there is a general consensus that vitamin D helps women reduce the risk of bone fractures. There are multiple studies that support this idea and the medical community is congruent. The only debatable issue that still lingers is whether a natural source of vitamin D is better than the common pill form supplement. If you have more questions or concerns, reach out to a company like Body Concepts for more information on treatment options.