Dietary vitamin C and bone mineral density in postmenopausal women in Washington State, USA

J Epidemiol Community Health. 1997 Oct;51(5):479-85. doi: 10.1136/jech.51.5.479.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Ascorbic Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Ascorbic Acid / pharmacology
  • Bone Density / drug effects*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Femur Neck / physiology
  • Fruit
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Postmenopause / physiology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Vegetables
  • Washington / epidemiology


  • Ascorbic Acid