Osteoporosis International

, Volume 28, Issue 9, pp 2619–2631 | Cite as

Determinants of bone mineral density in young Australian women; results from the Safe-D study

  • E. T. Callegari
  • S. M. Garland
  • A. Gorelik
  • J. D. Wark
Original Article



The study aimed to explore determinants of bone parameters in young women. Most bone parameters were associated with height and lean mass. Bone parameters were not associated with vitamin D status. Future research should address whether interventions aimed at improving lean mass are beneficial to bone health in young women.


The implementation of prevention strategies during young adulthood may be crucial for osteoporosis prevention in later life, yet literature examining the determinants of bone health in premenopausal women is limited. We aimed to assess determinants of bone health, including serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD), in females aged 16–25 years, living in Victoria, Australia, recruited through Facebook advertising.


Serum 25OHD was measured by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry and bone health was measured using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT) in 326 participants.


Mean (± standard deviation) serum 25OHD was 69 ± 28 nmol/L and the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency (serum 25OHD <50 nmol/L) was 26%. Seven percent of participants (n = 23) reported taking a vitamin D supplement. Two percent of participants had low lumbar spine bone mineral density (Z-score <−2.0), 5% at the hip and 7% at the femoral neck. Serum 25OHD levels were not associated with DXA bone parameters, nor with pQCT bone parameters. Most bone parameters were positively associated with height and lean mass.


Vitamin D status was not associated with bone health in young women in the current study. Our findings suggest that targeting other modifiable factors, such as lean body mass, is likely to be beneficial to bone health in young women. Longitudinal studies examining the association between vitamin D status and bone health in young women are necessary to confirm our findings. In addition, whether raising 25OHD levels is advantageous for young women’s bone health is yet to be determined.


Bone DXA Osteoporosis pQCT Vitamin D Young women 



The authors thank the participants who took part in the Safe-D study. The authors also thank the Safe-D chief investigators Dr. Nicola Reavley, A/Professor Marie Pirotta, Prof George Varigos, A/Prof Shanton Chang, and as well as associate investigators Prof Kim Bennell, Prof Anthony Jorm, and past study coordinator Ms. Adele Rivers. The authors also thank the Young Female Health Initiative (YFHI) associate investigators Dr. Yasmin Jayasinghe, Dr. Catherine Segan, and Dr. Asvini Subasinghe. The authors thank Anna Scobie, Marjan Tabesh, Miaowen Zhou, Lauren Gilbert, and Skye Maclean for assisting with the Safe-D study. We acknowledge the following people for their help with various components of the study: Adrian Bickerstaffe (The University of Melbourne); Maria Bisignano (Melbourne Health Shared Pathology Service); Dr. Ashwini Kale (The University of Melbourne); Dr. Johannes Willnecker (Novotec Medical GmbH). The Safe-D study was funded by National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) project grant APP1049065.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

The Safe-D study (part B) has received in-kind support from Swisse Wellness. Swisse Wellness did not play a role in study design, the implementation of these studies, nor the interpretation of the findings.


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Copyright information

© International Osteoporosis Foundation and National Osteoporosis Foundation 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. T. Callegari
    • 1
  • S. M. Garland
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • A. Gorelik
    • 5
  • J. D. Wark
    • 1
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Medicine, Royal Melbourne HospitalThe University of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia
  2. 2.Murdoch Childrens Research InstituteParkvilleAustralia
  3. 3.Royal Women’s HospitalParkvilleAustralia
  4. 4.Department of Obstetrics and GynaecologyThe University of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia
  5. 5.Melbourne EpiCentre, Royal Melbourne HospitalThe University of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia
  6. 6.Bone and Mineral MedicineRoyal Melbourne HospitalParkvilleAustralia

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