A comparative effectiveness study of bone density changes in women over 40 following three bone health plans containing variations of the same novel plant-sourced calcium

Int J Med Sci. 2011 Mar 2;8(3):180-91. doi: 10.7150/ijms.8.180.


Background: The US Surgeon General's Report on Bone Health suggests America's bone-health is in jeopardy and issued a "call to action" to develop bone-health plans incorporating components of (1) improved nutrition, (2) increased health literacy, and (3) increased physical activity.

Objective: To conduct a Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) study comparing changes in bone mineral density in healthy women over-40 with above-average compliance when following one of three bone health Plans incorporating the SG's three components.

Methods: Using an open-label sequential design, 414 females over 40 years of age were tested, 176 of whom agreed to participate and follow one of three different bone-health programs. One Plan contained a bone-health supplement with 1,000 IUs of vitamin D(3 )and 750 mg of a plant-sourced form of calcium for one year. The other two Plans contained the same plant form of calcium, but with differing amounts of vitamin D(3) and other added bone health ingredients along with components designed to increase physical activity and health literacy. Each group completed the same baseline and ending DXA bone density scans, 43-chemistry blood test panels, and 84-item Quality of Life Inventory (QOL). Changes for all subjects were annualized as percent change in BMD from baseline. Using self-reports of adherence, subjects were rank-ordered and dichotomized as "compliant" or "partially compliant" based on the median rating. Comparisons were also made between the treatment groups and two theoretical age-adjusted expected groups: a non-intervention group and a group derived from a review of previously published studies on non-plant sources of calcium.

Results: There were no significant differences in baseline BMD between those who volunteered versus those who did not and between those who completed per protocol (PP) and those who were lost to attrition. Among subjects completing per protocol, there were no significant differences between the three groups on baseline measurements of BMD, weight, age, body fat and fat-free mass suggesting that the treatment groups were statistically similar at baseline. In all three treatment groups subjects with above average compliance had significantly greater increases in BMD as compared to the two expected-change reference groups. The group following the most nutritionally comprehensive Plan outperformed the other two groups. For all three groups, there were no statistically significant differences between baseline and ending blood chemistry tests or the QOL self-reports.

Conclusions: The increases in BMD found in all three treatment groups in this CER stand in marked contrast to previous studies reporting that interventions with calcium and vitamin D(3) reduce age-related losses of BMD, but do not increase BMD. Increased compliance resulted in increased BMD levels. No adverse effects were found in the blood chemistry tests, self-reported quality of life and daily tracking reports. The Plans tested suggest a significant improvement over the traditional calcium and vitamin D(3) standard of care.

Keywords: bone mineral density; bone-health supplement; women over-40.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Ascorbic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Ascorbic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Body Weight
  • Bone Density / drug effects*
  • Bone Density / physiology
  • Boron / administration & dosage
  • Boron / therapeutic use
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Calcium / administration & dosage
  • Calcium / therapeutic use*
  • Cholecalciferol / administration & dosage
  • Cholecalciferol / therapeutic use*
  • Comparative Effectiveness Research*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lipids / blood
  • Magnesium / administration & dosage
  • Magnesium / therapeutic use
  • Middle Aged
  • Minerals / administration & dosage
  • Minerals / therapeutic use
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Quality of Life
  • Strontium / administration & dosage
  • Strontium / therapeutic use
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vitamin K 2 / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin K 2 / analogs & derivatives
  • Vitamin K 2 / therapeutic use


  • Blood Glucose
  • Lipids
  • Minerals
  • Plant Extracts
  • Vitamin K 2
  • Cholecalciferol
  • menatetrenone
  • menaquinone 7
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Magnesium
  • Boron
  • Ascorbic Acid
  • Calcium
  • Strontium