Bone Density, Muscle Mass Not Improved With High-Dose Vitamin D in Women

(HealthDay News) — High doses of vitamin D do not appear to protect postmenopausal women from osteoporosis, according to research published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Karen Hansen, MD, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison, and colleagues focused on 230 vitamin-D deficient postmenopausal women. Most were white, and all were under the age of 75. 

Between 2010 and 2013, the women were divided into three groups: a high-dose vitamin D group; a low-dose vitamin D group; and a placebo group. For 1 year, those in the low-dose group received 800 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily, while those in the high-dose group received 50,000 IU of vitamin D twice a month.

By year’s end, the no-dose group saw their calcium absorption rate drop by 1.3%, while the low-dose groups experienced a decrease of 2%, according to the researchers. In comparison, the high-dose group saw their rate increase by 1%.

While the overall vitamin D level across all three groups was ultimately measured at 21 ng/mL, the high-dose group saw their levels rise to 30 ng/mL.

However, despite the differences, tests revealed that the high-dose group showed no advantage over either the low-dose or no-dose group with respect to spine health, total bone mineral density, overall muscle mass or physical mobility. Similarly, no differences between the groups were seen with respect to overall fall risk. 

The researchers cautioned that the findings may not apply to non-white women, young adults, women over the age of 75 or men.

In an accompanying Editor’s Note, Deborah Grady, MD, MPH, a deputy editor of JAMA Internal Medicine, put the findings in perspective.

“It is possible that treatment beyond 1 year would result in better outcomes, but these data provide no support for use of higher-dose cholecalciferol replacement therapy or indeed any dose of cholecalciferol compared with placebo,” Grady wrote.

One author disclosed financial ties to Takeda Pharmaceuticals.


  1. Hansen KE et al. JAMA Intern Med. 2015;doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.3874.
  2. Grady D. JAMA Intern Med. 2015;doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.3937.