High vitamin A, low vitamin D increase osteoporosis risk

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By Jimmy Downs

Saturday April 27, 2013 (foodconsumer.org) -- Archives of Osteoporosis has recently published a study suggesting that postmenopausal women should take vitamin D supplements to maintain a healthy level of serum vitamin D if they want to prevent osteoporosis.

The study led by J. M. Mata-Granados and colleagues found postmenopausal women who had vitamin D insufficiency and excessively high levels of vitamin A were more likely to develop osteoporosis compared with those having a high serum level of vitamin D.

Vitamin D is synthesize after the skin is exposed to U.V. rays.  Vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency is commonly seen in Winter or regions where people do not have many sunny days.  Only a few foods such as mushrooms and oily fish contain vitamin D.  That is, many people may need to take vitamin D supplements to maintain a healthy level of this vitamin.

Specifically, the current study found postmenopausal women who had vitamin D deficiency and also had high serum levels of retinol or vitamin A were eight times more likely than others to develop osteoporosis.  A high vitamin A to vitamin D ratio (high retinol and low vitamin D is an additional risk for the development of osteoporosis, according to the study report.

Enrolled in the study were 232 healthy postmenopausal women.  Bone mass and other biochemical parameters were measured including serum calcium, albumin phosphorus, creatinine, high density lipoprotein and low density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides and vitamin D.

It was found that 70% of participants suffered vitamin D deficiency which was defined as having 25(OH)D  lower than 20 ng/mL and 23.6 % had vitamin D insufficiency, which was defined as having 25(OH)D between 21 and 29 ng/mL. 

The study found bone density, which indicates the risk of osteoporosis was  about 8 times higher in postmenopausal women with the highest retinol levels, compared with those with the lowest retinol levels. 

And in those with 25(OH)D lower than 20 ng/mL, the risk of osteoporosis increased as the blood levels of retinol increased.

The researchers concluded "Higher retinol levels together with vitamin D deficiency could be a significant additional risk factor for osteoporosis, underscoring the need for improved physician and public education regarding optimization of vitamin D status in postmenopausal women and developing policies to avoid high serum levels of vitamin A."

Osteoporosis is a serious medical condition and it can lead to bone fractures.  Recent research suggests that high intake of calcium alone may not be enough for bone health and vitamin D is critical in preventing bone diseases such as osteoporosis.

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