Researchers from the Catholic University of Korea recently report on the connection between vitamin D, parathyroid hormone and bone mineral density in elderly Koreans.
The research group, led by Dr Guilsun Kim, measured the vitamin D levels and parathyroid hormone levels of over 1000 Koreans over the age 50, as well as their bone density in their spine and femur.
People with high parathyroid hormone levels have increased bone turnover, increased bone loss and increased risk of fragility fracture. High vitamin D levels, on the other hand, help keep parathyroid hormone levels low, highlighting the importance of vitamin D for bone health.
The research group wanted to look at this specific relationship in a Korean population of elderly men and postmenopausal women.
They found that parathyroid hormone levels were highest when subjects had vitamin D levels below 15 ng/ml and lowest when vitamin D levels were above 30 ng/ml.
They also noticed that the femur bone was denser in both women and men who had high vitamin D levels, although they did not notice a statistically significant association with vitamin D levels and spine bone density. Generally, the researchers found that subjects had better bone density with vitamin D levels above 30 ng/ml compared to levels below 30 ng/ml, though there were not enough subjects to make this statistically significant.
The researchers advised that vitamin D levels and parathyroid hormone levels be measured in the elderly and that a higher vitamin D level can offset high parathyroid levels.