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Vitamin D supplements not effective in preserving bone mineral density in black women

CHICAGO Vitamin D supplementation did not appear to prevent bone loss in postmenopausal black women, according to a study in the July 25 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Although there is general agreement on the optimal calcium intake recommended for reducing postmenopausal bone loss, and it is recognized that vitamin D is important in calcium maintenance, the optimal intake of vitamin D is controversial, according to background information in the article. Blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OHD) are the best indicator of vitamin D status, with very low levels leading to rickets and osteomalacia (softening of bones). Black women have lower blood levels of 25-OHD because they synthesize less through skin exposure to the sun.

John F. Aloia, M.D., from Winthrop University Hospital, Mineola, N.Y., and colleagues, conducted a randomized, double-blind trial comparing bone loss in postmenopausal black women taking vitamin D3 supplements and those not taking supplements. Two-hundred-eight healthy black women, aged 50 to 75 years, received either placebo or 20 g/day (micrograms per day) of vitamin D3. All participants received calcium supplements to ensure a total calcium intake of 1,200 to 1,500 mg/day. After two years, the vitamin D3 dose was raised to 50 g/day. Bone mineral density (BMD) was measured at six-month intervals for three years.

The researchers found that there was no significant difference in BMD in women receiving vitamin D and women receiving placebo. There was also no relationship found between 25-OHD blood levels and bone density change in either group. Both groups experienced an increase in BMD in total body, hip, and mid-radius (forearm bone) at one year (between 1.1 and 1.3 percent). However, BMD declined at these sites over the full three years from 0.26 percent to 0.55 percent. Initial total hip BMD ranged from normal (65 percent) to osteopenic (having reduced bone mass; 33.6 per
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Contact: John Broder
516-663-2234
JAMA and Archives Journals
25-Jul-2005


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