Vitamin D inadequacy among post-menopausal women: a systematic review

QJM. 2005 Sep;98(9):667-76. doi: 10.1093/qjmed/hci096. Epub 2005 Jul 8.


Background: Vitamin D inadequacy has been studied extensively, due to concerns about ageing populations, associations with osteoporosis and other disorders (including non-musculoskeletal), and high prevalence.

Aim: To review recent reports on the prevalence of vitamin D inadequacy among post-menopausal women with and without osteoporosis and/or other musculoskeletal diseases.

Design: Systematic review.

Methods: We reviewed publications in the past 10 years reporting prevalence estimates for vitamin D inadequacy, reported as serum 25(OH)D values below various levels. Thirty published studies in the English language were identified, from January 1994 through April 2004.

Results: In osteoporotic populations, the prevalence of 25(OH) vitamin D concentration <12 ng/ml ranged from 12.5% to 76%, while prevalence rates reached 50% to 70% of patients with a history of fracture(s) using a cut-off of 15 ng/ml. In post-menopausal women, the prevalence of 25(OH) vitamin D concentrations <or=20 ng/ml ranged from 1.6% to 86% for community-living and institutionalized women, respectively. The most common factors associated with inadequate vitamin D levels included limited sun exposure, lack of dietary vitamin D intake, nursing home environment, wintertime, and increasing age (over 70 years).

Discussion: The prevalence of inadequate vitamin D levels appears to be high in post-menopausal women, especially in those with osteoporosis and history of fracture. Vitamin D supplementation in this group might offer scope for prevention of falls and fracture, especially in elderly and osteoporotic populations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone / etiology
  • Fractures, Bone / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal / etiology
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal / metabolism
  • Postmenopause*
  • Prevalence
  • Sunlight
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / epidemiology*
  • Vitamins / administration & dosage


  • Vitamins
  • Vitamin D