Vitamin D Did Not Improve Bone or Muscle Health in Post-Menopausal Women Interview with:
Karen E. Hansen, M.D., M.S.
Associate Professor of Medicine
University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
Madison, WI 53705-2281

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Hansen: The USPTF says to older community dwelling adults, “don’t bother taking vitamin D”, the Endocrine Society says “take 2,000-4,000 IU daily” and the Institute of Medicine gave an RDA of 600-800 IU daily. The Endocrine Society argues that optimal vitamin D levels are 30 ng/mL and higher, while the Institute of Medicine concludes that 20 ng/mL and higher indicates optimal vitamin D status. The disagreement between experts prompted my study.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Dr. Hansen: Among postmenopausal women whose vitamin D level was ~21 ng/mL at baseline, there was no benefit of high-dose or low-dose vitamin D, compared to placebo, on spine/hip/total body bone mineral density, muscle fitness by 5 sit to stand test or Timed Up and Go, or falls. We did see a small 1% increase in calcium absorption in the high-dose vitamin arm, but this small increase did not translate into clinically meaningful changes in bone density or muscle tests.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Hansen: the Institute of Medicine concluded that virtually all patients are vitamin D replete, if their serum levels are 20 ng/mL or higher. Our study agreed with that conclusion, since we found no clinical benefits from pushing levels from ~21 ng to above 30 ng/mL for one year, with use of high-dose vitamin D.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Hansen: We did not have many African American women in our study. Whether this group of individuals has differing vitamin D requirements, due to racial variations in vitamin D binding protein levels, or different calcium absorption efficiency and/or renal calcium recycling, is an important future study.


Hansen KE, Johnson R, Chambers KR, et al. Treatment of Vitamin D Insufficiency in Postmenopausal Women: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Intern Med. Published online August 03, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.3874.

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Karen E. Hansen, M.D., M.S (2015). Vitamin D Did Not Improve Bone or Muscle Health in Post-Menopausal Women

Last Updated on August 5, 2015 by Marie Benz MD FAAD