High Homocysteine Tied to Low Bone Density in Women

Low folate levels also a factor in bone health

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 11 (HealthDay News) -- High homocysteine and low folate levels are associated with low bone mineral density (BMD) in middle-aged and elderly women, Norwegian researchers report in the Jan. 9 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

In the Hordaland Homocysteine Study, Clara Gram Gjesdal, M.D., of Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen, Norway, and colleagues measured BMD in 2,268 men and 3,070 women aged 47 to 50 and 71 to 75. Measurements were taken between 1997 and 2000.

Plasma levels of homocysteine were inversely related to BMD among middle-aged and elderly women, but not among men, the researchers found. The adjusted odds ratio for low BMD among those in the highest quintile compared with those in the lowest was 1.96 for women.

Similar to the findings for homocysteine, low plasma folate levels were associated with low BMD in women only. Calcium and vitamin D intake were not significantly associated with BMD.

"It remains unclear whether the increased risk [of bone loss] is mediated directly by homocysteine levels or whether elevated [homocysteine] level is simply a reflection of an unhealthy lifestyle," the authors write. "Randomized trials are needed before any formal recommendations can be made concerning B vitamin supplementation for prevention of bone loss."

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