Vitamin C Supplement Use and Bone Mineral Density in Postmenopausal Women

Authors

  • Deborah J. Morton,

    1. Department of Family and Preventive Medicine. University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA
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  • Elizabeth L. Barrett-Connor,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Family and Preventive Medicine. University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA
    • Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, Division of Epidemiology, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093–0607, USA
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  • Diane L. Schneider

    1. Department of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA
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Abstract

Vitamin C is known to stimulate procollagen, enhance collagen synthesis, and stimulate alkaline phosphatase activity, a marker for osteoblast formation. Studies of dietary vitamin C intake and the relation with bone mineral density (BMD) have been conflicting, probably because of the well-known limitations of dietary nutrient assessment questionnaires. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the independent relation of daily vitamin C supplement use with BMD in a population-based sample of postmenopausal women. Subjects were 994 women from a community-based cohort of whom 277 women were regular vitamin C supplement users. Vitamin C supplement use was validated. Daily vitamin C supplement intake ranged from 100 to 5000 mg; the mean daily dose was 745 mg. Average duration of use was 12.4 years; 85% had taken vitamin C supplements for more than 3 years. BMD levels were measured at the ultradistal and midshaft radii, hip, and lumbar spine. After adjusting for age, body mass index (BMI), and total calcium intake, vitamin C users had BMD levels approximately 3% higher at the midshaft radius, femoral neck, and total hip (p < 0.05). In a fully adjusted model, significant differences remained at the femoral neck (p < 0.02) and marginal significance was observed at the total hip (p < 0.06). Women taking both estrogen and vitamin C had significantly higher BMD levels at all sites. Among current estrogen users, those also taking vitamin C had higher BMD levels at all sites, with marginal significance achieved at the ultradistal radius (p < 0.07), femoral neck (p < 0.07), and total hip (p < 0.09). Women who took vitamin C plus calcium and estrogen had the highest BMD at the femoral neck (p = 0.001), total hip (p = 0.05), ultradistal radius (p = 0.02), and lumbar spine. Vitamin C supplement use appears to have a beneficial effect on levels of BMD, especially among postmenopausal women using concurrent estrogen therapy and calcium supplements.

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