Original Research

Calcified Tissue International

, Volume 91, Issue 6, pp 430-439

First online:

Vitamin C and Zinc Intakes are Related to Bone Macroarchitectural Structure and Strength in Prepubescent Girls

  • Monica J. LaudermilkAffiliated withCenter for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, The University of Pennsylvania Email author 
  • , Melinda M. ManoreAffiliated withDepartment of Nutrition and Exercise Sciences, Oregon State University
  • , Cynthia A. ThomsonAffiliated withDepartment of Nutritional Sciences, The University of Arizona
  • , Linda B. HoutkooperAffiliated withDepartment of Nutritional Sciences, The University of Arizona
  • , Joshua N. FarrAffiliated withEndocrine Research Unit, Mayo Clinic
  • , Scott B. GoingAffiliated withDepartment of Nutritional Sciences, The University of Arizona

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The extent to which nutrient intake may influence bone structure and strength during maximal rates of skeletal growth remains uncertain. We examined the relationship of dietary intake of micronutrients and bone macroarchitectural structure in young girls. This cross-sectional analysis included baseline data from 363 fourth- and sixth-grade girls enrolled in the Jump-In study. Nutrient intake was assessed using the Harvard Youth/Adolescent Food Frequency Questionnaire. Volumetric BMD (vBMD), bone geometry, and strength were measured by peripheral quantitative computed tomography. Correlations and regression modeling assessed relations between usual nutrient intake and bone parameters. In fourth-grade girls, metaphyseal and diaphyseal area and circumferences as well as diaphyseal strength were associated with vitamin C intake (r = 0.15–0.19, p < 0.05). Zinc intake was correlated with diaphyseal vBMD (r = 0.15–0.16, p < 0.05). Using multiple linear regression to adjust for important covariates, we observed significant independent associations for vitamin C and zinc with bone parameters. For every milligram per day of vitamin C intake trabecular area increased by 11 %, cortical strength improved by 14 %, and periosteal and endosteal circumferences increased by 5 and 8.6 %, respectively. For every milligram per day of zinc intake, cortical vBMD increased by <1 %. No significant associations were observed in sixth-grade girls. Results of this study suggests that vitamin C and zinc intake are positively associated with objective measures of bone geometry, size, and strength in fourth-grade girls. This indicates that potential differences in micronutrient and bone associations at various age-associated stages of bone maturation may be indicative of competing hormonal influences.


Peripheral quantitative computed tomography Preadolescence Bone mineral density Bone strength Micronutrient intake Vitamin C