Calcium and vitamin D deficiencies raises osteoporosis risk in low income people: Study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© Stas_V / Getty Images
© Stas_V / Getty Images

Related tags Vitamin d Calcium Bone health

In the US, 25% of the older Americans live below the poverty line, and high levels of inadequacy of calcium and vitamin D is putting this already vulnerable population at increased risk of poor bone health, suggests a new study from Pharmavite LLC, the makers of the Nature Made brand of dietary supplements.

Data published in PLoS ONE​ indicated that within low-income older Americans (over 50 with household annual incomes below $20,000) 68% have inadequate calcium intakes, and 43% have inadequate vitamin D intakes

Analysis of National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data also revealed that only 27.5% of this population use calcium and vitamin D supplements.

Moreover, 14% of these people have osteoporosis, which is higher than the 10% of total Americans in this age group.

“This study continues to demonstrate how prevalent nutrient deficiency is among the U.S. population, and even more so, among lower income individuals and those with food insecurities,” ​said Susan Hazels Mitmesser, PhD, Vice President of Science & Technology at Pharmavite and co-author on the paper.

“Yet, we know that nutrient adequacy is imperative in supporting overall health and wellness, including immune health, at a time when that is heavy on everyone’s mind.”

Dr Mitmesser added: “Improving the consumption of nutrient-rich and fortified foods among individuals that live in poverty can help to decrease their chances of developing osteoporosis. Additionally, dietary supplements can play a critical role in helping any underserved population meet their nutrition needs —including making supplements readily available through programs like SNAP, for example.

“Our research demonstrates that participants with SNAP benefits and more access to food, have fewer nutrient inadequacies which helps them meet their nutrition needs.”

Study details

Analysis of data from 3,901 NHANES participants aged 50 and older showed that, in general the women in the 50+ cohort were consistently found to have inadequate calcium intake, regardless of economic status.

When the research team dug down into the impact of poverty they found that poverty increased the risk of inadequate calcium and vitamin D intake in all men and the risk of osteoporosis among some subgroups. An exception to this was for participant of the SNAP program (formerly known as food stamps), a result that hightlights the importance of that program for adequate nutrition.

“This analysis suggests that nutrient deficiencies affect poverty-stricken males more than females in relation to the risk of osteoporosis,”​ wrote the authors, led by Keri Marshall, ND, director of medical and scientific communications at Pharmavite.

“This could be due to the fact that other gender specific health issues play a more dominant role in osteoporosis risk for females such as menopause whereas major osteoporosis risk factors for men are age and inadequate nutrition, which can be exacerbated by economic disparities.”

The data also showed that non-Hispanic Black men with a low income have two times greater risk for developing osteoporosis.

“It is expected that living in a state of poverty and being burdened by food insecurity is likely to lead to increased odds of being nutrient intake inadequate which can lead to increased risk of experiencing adverse events associated with metabolic-related diseases, like osteoporosis. This study provides statistically significant evidence of the directional association of these factors but more research is required to support more explicit statements of relation,” ​wrote the authors.

Source:PLoS ONE
Published online, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0235042
“Inadequate calcium and vitamin D intake and osteoporosis risk in older Americans living in poverty with food insecurities”
Authors: K. Marshall et al.

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