Low consumption of dairy could increase the chances among women of an early menopause, new research has suggested.
The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that vitamin D and calcium contributed to a lower-than-average risk of starting the menopause before the age of 45 among women in their early 40s. But the effects were only observed when the nutrients were derived from foods, and not through supplementation.
The study analysed data from questionnaires conducted among more than 100,000 registered US nurses, who were all younger than 42 when they started responding to the surveys as part of a separate research project.
Lead author Alexandra Purdue-Smithe told Reuters: “Early menopause can have substantial health impacts for women. It increases their risk of cardiovascular disease and early cognitive decline and osteoporosis. Given that [early menopause] affects roughly 10% of women in the US and other Western populations, it felt like a worthwhile problem to start investigating and seeing if there are any potentially modifiable risk factors for it.”
According to the findings, the women who consumed more vitamin D in their diets had 17% less chance of experiencing an early menopause.
The women who consumed the most calcium had a 13% lower risk of having an early menopause than those that consumed the least.
Last month, separate research in the UK found that the trend among younger consumers to cut dairy out of their diets could be dangerous for their bone health later in life.
A survey from the National Osteoporosis Society found that nearly a fifth of consumers aged under 25 had sought to reduce the amount of dairy in their diets. It adds to recent research from the Food Standards Agency, which discovered almost a fifth of 16 to 24-year-olds claimed to be intolerant to cow’s milk and dairy products, despite less than a quarter of those having had their intolerance diagnosed by a doctor.
A fall in consumption of dairy milks and a move away from dairy yogurt and cheese could leave consumers more vulnerable to breaks and fractures, the charity said.
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