The B for Your Bones: Low vitamin B-12 levels linked to osteoporosis

New research conducted by Katherine Tucker, PhD, of Tufts University, examined dietary factors in relation to osteoporosis and uncovered a positive association between vitamin B-12 and bone health. In other words, the authors conclude that vitamin B-12 deficiency may be an important modifiable risk factor for osteoporosis.

“Osteoporosis is becoming a much greater issue now that people are living so much longer,” said lead author Tucker. “Our study provides support for a way in which people can actively lower their risk of osteoporosis and help to preserve quality of life.”

Tucker and her colleagues measured bone mineral density — a measure of bone quality — and vitamin B-12 level in more than 2,500 men and women participating in the Framingham Osteoporosis Study. They found that both men and women with low vitamin B-12 levels had on average lower bone mineral densities — putting them at greater risk of osteoporosis — than men and women with higher levels.

“This is the first large scale study of its kind to show an association between low vitamin B-12 and low bone mineral density in men and it confirms other reports of this association in women,” said Tucker, “It shows that getting enough vitamin B-12 from meats, poultry, fish and dairy products may be important for both men and women in maintaining strong bones. Some individuals, particularly older people, have difficulty absorbing vitamin B-12 from foods, however, and inclusion of breakfast cereals fortified with vitamin B-12 or use of vitamin B-12 supplements offers additional protection.”

Friedman Nutrition Notes, Jan/Feb 2005