Vitamin E improves bone density for women but not men: Study

By Annie Harrison-Dunn

- Last updated on GMT

Osteoporosis affects over 75 million people in the US, Europe and Japan, according the WHO
Osteoporosis affects over 75 million people in the US, Europe and Japan, according the WHO

Related tags Bone mineral density Osteoporosis

Greater dietary intakes and blood levels of vitamin E are associated with greater bone mineral density (BMD) in women but not men, Chinese research in over 3000 adults has found.

Published in the British Journal of Nutrition​, the study included 2178 Chinese women and 1025 men aged 40–75.

On the results, the researchers wrote: “Our study adds to the evidence that supports a positive association of vitamin E (in diet and serum) with higher BMD and a lower risk for osteoporosis in a large sample of middle-aged and elderly Chinese women but not in Chinese men.”

Osteoporosis is a medical condition wherby bones become brittle and fragile through tissue loss, often as a result of hormonal changes or nutrient deficiencies.  

Oxidative stress may play an important role in the development of osteoporosis and postmenopausal women often suffer from increased oxidative stress due to oestrogen deficiency.

Vitamin E has been highlighted for its ability to work as an antioxidative, including free radical scavenging, reduction of damage from reactive oxidant species and inhibition of lipid peroxidation.

It may also improve calcium transport and use and the suppression of the boneresorbing cytokines IL-1 and -6.

The association in women seen in the study was particularly evident in the lumbar spine, hip, intertrochanter and femur neck.

The researchers from the Sun Yat-sen University and Zunyi Medical University in China said the research came in response to an urgent need for preventive measures for osteoporosis in older adults.

According to a 2004 report from the World Health Organisation (WHO)​, osteoporosis affects over 75 million people in the US, Europe and Japan and causes over 8.9 million fractures annually worldwide, of which more than 4.5 million happen in the Americas and Europe.

The WHO wrote at the time: “Until recently, osteoporosis was an under-recognised disease and considered to be an inevitable consequence of ageing. Perceptions have changed since epidemiological studies have highlighted the high burden of the disease and its costs to society and health care agencies, as well as the adverse effects on millions of patients worldwide.”

Source: British Journal of Nutrition

Published online ahead of print, doi:10.1017/S0007114515004134

“Association of dietary and serum vitamin E with bone mineral density in middle-aged and elderly Chinese adults: a cross-sectional study”

Authors: W. Shi, J. Liu, Y. Cao, Y. Zhu, K. Guan and Y. Chen

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1 comment

Some serious misconceptions

Posted by Dr. Michael Helm, Dynamic Nutrition Lab,

Postmenopausal women suffer from estrogen overload, not from deficiency.

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