Background: Because there is reason to assume that also in Austria calcium and vitamin D malnutrition is wide-spread, we initiated a comprehensive study on calcium and vitamin D status in relation to bone health in a large group of the normal adult population.
Subjects and methods: We assessed dietary calcium and vitamin D intake, serum concentrations of Ca2+, phosphate, alkaline phosphatase, 25(OH)D, 1,25(OH)2D, parathyroid hormone (PTH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), sex hormones and bone mineral density (BMD) by double-energy X-ray absorptiometry at five different skeletal sites in 648 females and 400 males (age 21-76 years).
Results: Mean daily intake of vitamin D (101 IU, range 0.2-320) and calcium (569 mg, range 40-2170) was significantly less than the respective recommended dietary allowances. Two hundred and seventy-one (26%) individuals had hypovitaminosis D with serum 25(OH)D < 12 ng mL(-1), while serum Ca2+ was less than normal in 82 (7.8%) subjects. Multiple regression analysis revealed significant correlations between mean calcium intake and BMD in the femoral region in the men (r = 0.13, P < 0.05) though not in the women. No consistent data could be obtained for associations between BMD and vitamin D status, except for 25(OH)D and BMD at the spine in the men (r = 0.10, P < 0.05). 25(OH)D correlated negatively (P < 0.05) with age in the women (r = -0.11) and with PTH in the women (r = -0.11) and men (r = -0.16). Inversely, a significant (P < 0.001) age-related increase in PTH was observed in both sexes (men, r = 0.19; women, r = 0.14).
Conclusions: Prevalence of hypovitaminosis D in adult Austrians is an imminent risk for development of secondary hyperparathyroidism with advancing age, and requires timely correction of nutritional deficits.