Category Archives: Osteoporosis

High-Dose Vitamin D Supplementation May Be Worse or No Better Than Low-Dose

Lately I’m seeing more patients taking high-dose vitamin D supplements (usually D3, aka cholecalciferol) rather than traditional 400–800 IU/day.

From a recent study:

This randomized trial compares the effects of 400 vs 4000 vs 10 000 IU of vitamin D on total volumetric bone mineral density and bone strength of the radius and tibia.

Conclusion:

Among healthy adults, treatment with vitamin D for 3 years at a dose of 4000 IU per day or 10 000 IU per day, compared with 400 IU per day, resulted in statistically significant lower radial BMD; tibial BMD was significantly lower only with the 10 000 IU per day dose. There were no significant differences in bone strength at either the radius or tibia. These findings do not support a benefit of high-dose vitamin D supplementation for bone health; further research would be needed to determine whether it is harmful.

Source: Effect of High-Dose Vitamin D Supplementation on Volumetric Bone Density and Bone Strength: A Randomized Clinical Trial | Osteoporosis | JAMA | JAMA Network

Steve Parker, M.D.

Steve Parker MD, Advanced Mediterranean Diet

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Does Calcium  Intake Affect Postmenopausal Osteoporosis or Osteopenia?

Waste of money and effort?

Many physicians worry that inadequate calcium consumption causes or contributes to thin, brittle, easily breakable bones in postmenopausal women. A recent study suggests that calcium intake doesn’t matter.

Abstract

CONTEXT:

Calcium intakes are commonly lower than the recommended levels, and increasing calcium intake is often recommended for bone health.

OBJECTIVE:To determine the relationship between dietary calcium intake and rate of bone loss in older postmenopausal women.

PARTICIPANTS:

Analysis of observational data collected from a randomized controlled trial. Participants were osteopenic (hip T-scores between -1.0 and -2.5) women, aged >65 years, not receiving therapy for osteoporosis nor taking calcium supplements. Women from the total cohort (n = 1994) contributed data to the analysis of calcium intake and bone mineral density (BMD) at baseline, and women from the placebo group (n = 698) contributed data to the analysis of calcium intake and change in BMD. BMD and bone mineral content (BMC) of the spine, total hip, femoral neck, and total body were measured three times over 6 years.

RESULTS:

Mean calcium intake was 886 mg/day. Baseline BMDs were not related to quintile of calcium intake at any site, before or after adjustment for baseline age, height, weight, physical activity, alcohol intake, smoking status, and past hormone replacement use. There was no relationship between bone loss and quintile of calcium intake at any site, with or without adjustment for covariables. Total body bone balance (i.e., change in BMC) was unrelated to an individuals’ calcium intake (P = 0.99).

CONCLUSIONS:

Postmenopausal bone loss is unrelated to dietary calcium intake. This suggests that strategies to increase calcium intake are unlikely to impact the prevalence of and morbidity from postmenopausal osteoporosis.

Source: Dietary Calcium Intake and Bone Loss Over 6 Years in Osteopenic Postmenopausal Women. – PubMed – NCBI

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: Elderly men get osteoporosis, too. But when the Emergency Department calls me to admit an older patient with a hip fracture, it’s a woman 9 out of 10 times.

Steve Parker MD, Advanced Mediterranean Diet

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For Seniors on a Weight-Loss Diet, Resistance Training Beats Aerobics for Bone Preservation

according to an article at MedPageToday.

"One more rep then I'm outa here!"

“One more rep then I’m outa here!”

The two experimental groups had about 60 participants each, so it was a relatively small study. (In general, the larger the study, the more reliable the findings.) Most participants were white women; mean age was 69. The experimental intervention ran for five months. An excerpt:

In one trial, the participants were randomized to a structured resistance training program in which three sets of 10 repetitions of eight upper and lower body exercises were done 3 days each week at 70% of one repetition maximum for 5 weeks, with or without calorie restriction of 600 calories per day.
In the second study, participants were randomized to an aerobic program which was conducted for 30 minutes at 65% to 70% heart rate reserve 4 days per week, with or without calorie restriction of 600 calories per day.

The beneficial bone effect was seen at the hip but not the lumbar spine.

Thin old bones—i.e., osteoporotic ones—are prone to fractures. Maintaining or improving bone mineral density probably prevents age-related fractures. In a five-month small study like this, I wouldn’t expect the researchers to find any fracture rate reduction; that takes years. 

Most elders starting a weight-training program should work with a personal trainer.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Do Fruits and Vegetables Prevent Disease? Which Ones?

Potential answers are in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2012).  I quote:

For hypertension, coronary heart disease, and stroke, there is convincing evidence that increasing the consumption of vegetables and fruit reduces the risk of disease. There is probable evidence that the risk of cancer in general is inversely associated with the consumption of vegetables and fruit. In addition, there is possible evidence that an increased consumption of vegetables and fruit may prevent body weight gain. As overweight is the most important risk factor for type 2 diabetes mellitus, an increased consumption of vegetables and fruit therefore might indirectly reduces the incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Independent of overweight, there is probable evidence that there is no influence of increased consumption on the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus. There is possible evidence that increasing the consumption of vegetables and fruit lowers the risk of certain eye diseases, dementia and the risk of osteoporosis. Likewise, current data on asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and rheumatoid arthritis indicate that an increase in vegetable and fruit consumption may contribute to the prevention of these diseases. For inflammatory bowel disease, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy, there was insufficient evidence regarding an association with the consumption of vegetables and fruit.

It bothers me that vegetables and fruits are lumped together: they’re not the same.

All of my diets—Advanced Mediterranean, Low-Carb Mediterranean, and Ketogenic Mediterranean—provide plenty of fruits and vegetables.

Calcium Supplementation Linked to Heart Attacks

A new European study suggests that calcium supplements almost double the risk of having a heart attack, at least in Germans.  You can read the full report in the current issue of Heart.

The medical literature on this issue is a confusing mess.  In other words, lots of conflicting results.

Huge numbers of women in the U.S. are taking calcium supplements either to treat or prevent osteoporosis and the associated broken bones (e.g., hips, wrists, spine).

What I’d like to know, and what nobody knows, is what is the effect of calcium supplementation on average longevity and quality of life.  Maybe I’d accept a higher risk of heart attack if calcium supplementation prolonged lifespan by two years.

In the interest of brevity, I’ll just say that the best way to get your calcium is probably through food rather than supplements.

Shereen Jegtvig has an article at About.com listing foods rich in calcium.

Exercise can also help keep your bones strong and break-resistant.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: If your doctor has you on a calcium supplement, you’d best get his blessing before you stop it.