Vitamin D is a crucial nutrient for proper bone mineralization. However a new study published in the June 2005 issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that women taking drugs for osteoporosis have low levels of the vitamin.
Led by Michael F. Holick, MD, PhD, researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine conducted their study on 1,536 women in 61 study sites, all of whom had been taking medication for osteoporosis for at least three months. Ninety-two percent of study subjects were Caucasian, with a mean age of 71 years.
The participants received medical examinations, at which time they were asked to answer questions regarding medication and supplement intake. Although they were allowed to have used vitamin D supplements, participants were excluded from the study if they had recently altered the amounts they were taking. During the examination, blood samples were drawn and levels of the active vitamin D metabolite (serum 25- hydroxyvitamin D) were measured.
The findings were remarkable. Fifty-two percent of the participants were shown to have inadequate levels of vitamin D (less than 30 nanograms per millimeter). Eighteen percent had even lower levels than that at 20 nanograms per millimeter or less. Sixty-three percent of those tested who reported vitamin D intake of 400 units or less had inadequate levels compared to 45 percent of those women whose intake of vitamin D supplements was greater than 400 units.
Researchers concluded that the study shows a need for greater education with regard to improving vitamin D status in women suffering from osteoporosis.
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Michael F. Holick, Ethel S. Siris, Neil Binkley, Mary K. Beard, Aliya Khan, Jennifer T. Katzer, Richard A. Petruschke, Erluo Chen, and Anne E. de Papp. Prevalence of Vitamin D Inadequacy among Postmenopausal North American Women Receiving Osteoporosis Therapy. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2005 90: 3215-3224; first published March 29 2005 as doi:10.1210/jc.2004-2364. http://jcem.endojournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/90/6/3215