Vitamin D has been found to prevent thousands of negative health conditions, and even aid the body in fighting pre-existing ones. The latest finding is that improper vitamin D levels may lead to early menstruation in young girls, which is a risk factor for countless health problems that may affect them later in life.
Researchers from the University of Michigan School of Public Health measured the blood vitamin D levels in 242 girls ages 5-12 from Bogota, Colombia, and followed them for 30 months. Girls low on vitamin D were twice as likely to start menstruation during the study than those with sufficient vitamin D, said epidemiologist Eduardo Villamor, associate professor in the U-M SPH.
This is important for several reasons, Villamor said. Worldwide, there has been a slow decline in the age of the first menstruation, or menarche, for years, which Villamor says suggests an environmental cause, since the genetics that trigger puberty haven’t changed.
“We know relatively little about what triggers puberty from an environmental perspective,” Villamor said. “If we learn what is causing the decline in age of first menstruation, we may be able to develop interventions” to prevent premature menarche.
Early menstruation is a risk factor for behavioral and psychosocial problems in teens. Also, girls who have an earlier menarche appear to have increased risk of developing cardiometabolic diseases and cancer — particularly breast cancer, as adults.