Vitamin D alone does little to protect bone health in postmenopausal women

September 24, 2013

While calcium supplements noticeably improved bone health in postmenopausal women, vitamin D supplements did not reduce bone turnover, according to a recent study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).

Bone turnover is the body's natural process for breaking down old bone. In young people, the body forms enough new bone to replace what is lost. After age 30, however, bone mass in women begins to decline and the process speeds up after menopause. Osteoporosis develops when the body cannot replace bone as fast as it is broken down.

"Vitamin D and calcium interact to suppress bone turnover by decreasing parathyroid hormone levels," said the study's lead author, John Aloia, MD, of Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, NY. "This can be beneficial in women who are vitamin D deficient. In women who already are receiving the recommended daily allowance of vitamin D, however, the study found there was no advantage to adding a vitamin D supplement."

The double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel group, longitudinal factorial design study divided 159 into four groups. One group received a combination of vitamin D and calcium, one was given 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily, one took 4,000 IU of vitamin D daily and the last group received placebos. To measure the effect supplements had on bone health, researchers measured bone turnover markers, such as parathyroid hormone levels in the blood, over the course of six months. In all, 120 women completed the study.

Researchers found a significant decline in bone turnover markers among women who were given daily . The vitamin D supplements did not have any effect on bone turnover markers, although the supplements did decrease parathyroid hormone levels.

"These findings suggest that D supplements over the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) do not protect , whereas calcium supplements do have an effect," Aloia said. "Women do need to be cautious about the possibility of vascular side effects from too much calcium and should consult their physicians about whether their diet is adequate or whether they should take at all."

Explore further: Calcium and vitamin D help hormones help bones

More information: The article, "Calcium and Vitamin D Supplementation in Postmenopausal Women," was published online, ahead of print.

Related Stories

Calcium and vitamin D help hormones help bones

June 26, 2013
Should women take calcium and vitamin D supplements after menopause for bone health? Recommendations conflict, and opinions are strong. But now, an analysis from the major Women's Health Initiative (WHI) trial throws weight ...

Calcium supplements linked to longer lifespans in women

May 22, 2013
Taking a calcium supplement of up to 1,000 mg per day can help women live longer, according to a recent study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).

Calcium supplements may not prevent bone loss in women with breast cancer

August 27, 2013
Women undergoing treatment for breast cancer are widely prescribed calcium and vitamin D supplements to prevent and manage osteoporosis, an unwanted side effect of breast cancer therapies. However, new research from Wake ...

Calcium plus vitamin D supplementation does not reduce joint symptoms in postmenopausal women, study finds

August 16, 2013
A team of investigators systematically analyzed the effect of calcium and vitamin D supplementation on joint symptoms in a rigorous and controlled study of postmenopausal women. They found that supplementation did not reduce ...

Vitamin D: A double-edged sword in the fight against osteoporosis?

April 23, 2012
Vitamin D is renowned for its role in creating strong bones and is a key regulator of serum calcium levels. Calcium is primarily obtained through diet and absorbed through the intestine and into the blood stream. In addition ...

Timing of calcium and vitamin D supplementation may affect how bone adapts to exercise

June 18, 2013
Taking calcium and vitamin D before exercise may influence how bones adapt to exercise, according to a new study. The results will be presented on Tuesday at The Endocrine Society's 95th Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

Recommended for you

To reduce postoperative pain, consider sleep—and caffeine

August 18, 2017
Sleep is essential for good mental and physical health, and chronic insufficient sleep increases the risk for several chronic health problems.

Despite benefits, half of parents against later school start times

August 18, 2017
Leading pediatrics and sleep associations agree: Teens shouldn't start school so early.

Doctors exploring how to prescribe income security

August 18, 2017
Physicians at St. Michael's Hospital are studying how full-time income support workers hired by health-care clinics can help vulnerable patients or those living in poverty improve their finances and their health.

Schoolchildren who use e-cigarettes are more likely to try tobacco

August 17, 2017
Vaping - or the use of e-cigarettes - is widely accepted as a safer option for people who are already smoking.

Federal snack program does not yield expected impacts, researchers find

August 17, 2017
A well-intentioned government regulation designed to offer healthier options in school vending machines has failed to instill better snacking habits in a sample of schools in Appalachian Virginia, according to a study by ...

In a nutshell: Walnuts activate brain region involved in appetite control

August 17, 2017
Packed with nutrients linked to better health, walnuts are also thought to discourage overeating by promoting feelings of fullness. Now, in a new brain imaging study, researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.