June 12 (UPI) — New research has uncovered how supplements may help postmenopausal women stave off cardiovascular disease, a study says.

Vitamin D and estrogen supplements may reduce various indicators of metabolic syndrome such as obesity, hyperglycemia, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes, according to a study published Monday in Menopause.

Metabolic syndrome affects between 30 percent to 60 percent of postmenopausal women around the world, according to the researchers. The risk factors for metabolic syndrome, like obesity and heart disease, increase greatly as women get older and lose estrogen.

“In this cross-sectional study, low estradiol increased the risk of metabolic syndrome in postmenopausal women who had vitamin D deficiency,” JoAnn Pinkerton, executive director at North American Menopause Society, said in a press release.

For the study, researchers looked at 616 postmenopausal women between ages 49 and 86, who had not taken estrogen and vitamin D/calcium supplements before the trial. They found a strong link between vitamin D and estradiol.

Over a 20-year follow-up, the researchers say higher vitamin D dosages were associated with better blood pressure, as well as cholesterol and glucose levels. Using estradiol alone, however, had a negative effect on those numbers. Estradiol is a drug used to treat postmenopausal women with estrogen deficiency.

In the past, some researchers thought giving estradiol to women who have been postmenopausal less than six years.

“The Endocrine Society recommends vitamin D levels of 30 ng/mL for postmenopausal women,” Pinkerton said. “Whether adequate levels of vitamin D improve nonskeletal cardiovascular or cognitive benefits remains the subject of debate, and answers await randomized clinical trial data.”

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