A Randomized Controlled Trial of Vitamin D Supplementation on Preventing Postmenopausal Bone Loss and Modifying Bone Metabolism Using Identical Twin Pairs

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Abstract

Vitamin D supplementation, when given with calcium, has been shown to increase bone mineral density (BMD) and reduce the incidence of hip fracture in elderly subjects. Despite its widespread use, the benefits of vitamin D supplementation in younger women and as a single agent are less clear. We performed a randomized co-twin, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial over 2 years to measure the effect of vitamin D3 supplementation on bone density and bone metabolism in young postmenopausal women. Seventy-nine monozygotic (MZ) twin pairs (mean age, 58.7 years; range, 47–70 years) were recruited. For each twin pair, one was randomized to 800 IU cholecalciferol/day for 2 years and the other was randomized to placebo. BMD was measured at the spine and hip and heel ultrasound at baseline, 12, 18, and 24 months. Samples were collected at 0, 3, and 6 months to measure serum calcium, 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D], parathyroid hormone (PTH), osteocalcin, and urinary deoxypyridinoline (DPD). In total, 64 pairs completed the study. No differences in baseline characteristics were seen between the groups. At 6 months, the treatment group had an increase in serum vitamin D [mean ± SEM intrapair difference, 14.1 ± 2.4 μg/liter (p < 0.001)]. There were no significant differences in other serum measurements or bone markers at 3 months or 6 months. At 24 months, no significant treatment effect was seen on BMD or calcaneal ultrasound change within pairs. Subanalysis of treatment response by vitamin D receptor (VDR) genotype revealed no significant difference in effect on BMD variables with treatment. On the basis of these results, vitamin D supplementation, on its own, cannot be recommended routinely as an osteoporosis prevention for healthy postmenopausal women with normal vitamin D levels under the age of 70 years.

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