Study objective: To examine the relationship between dietary vitamin C and hip bone mineral density (BMD) in postmenopausal women.
Design: This was a cross sectional study using retrospective diet and vitamin supplement data.
Setting: The Seattle area of Washington State.
Participants: Screenees for a clinical trial of a drug to prevent osteoporotic fractures; 1892 women aged 55-80 years who had hip bone densitometry and osteoporosis risk factor information.
Main results: Mean energy adjusted dietary intake of vitamin C was 113 mg/day; including supplement use, mean intake was 407 mg/day. There were no differences in BMD according to diet-only vitamin C intake or combined dietary and supplemental vitamin C intake. Longer duration of vitamin C supplement use was associated with higher BMD in women who had not used oestrogen replacement therapy (trend p = 0.02) and among women aged 55-64 years (trend p = 0.01). Women aged 55-64 years who used vitamin C supplements for > or = 10 years had a higher BMD than non-users aged 55-64 years (multivariate adjusted mean BMD 0.699 (0.017) g/cm2 versus 0.655 (0.007) g/cm2, p = 0.02). Benefits were not evident in older age groups or in women who had used oestrogen in the past. Frequent intake of foods rich in vitamin C was not associated with BMD.
Conclusion: There was no evidence that vitamin C from the diet was associated with BMD, although long term use of vitamin C supplements was associated with a higher BMD in the early postmenopausal years and among never users of oestrogen.