The relationship between serum 25(OH)D and bone density and microarchitecture as measured by HR-pQCT



The relation between serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D [25(OH)D] and bone quality is not well understood, particularly for high levels. We measured bone microarchitecture in three groups of people stratified by their serum 25(OH)D. There was a weak association of serum 25(OH)D and microarchitecture for this cross-sectional population, suggesting possible benefits to bone quality.


Vitamin D plays an important role in bone and mineral metabolism, but the relation between serum 25(OH)D and bone quality is not well understood. Here, we present a cross-sectional study that investigated a convenience group of participants from an ongoing health initiative in Alberta, Canada, who have been receiving daily vitamin D supplementation.


A total of 105 participants were organized into three groups based on their serum 25(OH)D levels: low (<75 nmol/L), medium (75–175 nmol/L), and high (>175 nmol/L). They were also assessed with 25(OH)D as a continuous variable. Average daily supplementation was 7670 ± 438 IU, and the change in 25(OH)D ranged from 22 to 33 % during the period of receiving supplements. We used high-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography measurements at the radius and tibia to assess bone microarchitecture.


Microarchitectural parameters were not strongly associated with serum 25(OH)D. In the tibia, there were fewer trabeculae (TbN; p = 0.015) and a non-significant trend toward thicker trabeculae (p = 0.067) of the high group. Body mass index (BMI) was negatively associated with serum 25(OH)D levels (p < 0.001) and PTH levels (p < 0.001). There was no clinically significant relationship detected between high serum 25(OH)D and high serum calcium.


These data suggest a weak relationship between serum 25(OH)D and bone microarchitecture in this population of mostly vitamin-D-sufficient participants, and there were no indications of negative effects related to the high supplementation levels. These data provided a basis to design and implement our 3-year dose-dependent randomized controlled trial investigating the effects of vitamin D supplementation on bone health outcomes.

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This work was funded by Pure North S’Energy Foundation (Calgary, Alberta). Technical support was provided by Ken Fyie, Michelle Kan, and John Schipilow.

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Correspondence to S. K. Boyd.

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Boyd, S.K., Burt, L.A., Sevick, L.K. et al. The relationship between serum 25(OH)D and bone density and microarchitecture as measured by HR-pQCT. Osteoporos Int 26, 2375–2380 (2015).

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  • 25(OH)D
  • Bone microarchitecture
  • Calcium
  • HR-pQCT
  • Vitamin D