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B-vitamins and bone in health and disease: the current evidence

  • M. Clarke (a1), M. Ward (a1), J. J. Strain (a1), L. Hoey (a1), W. Dickey (a2) and H. McNulty (a1)...

Osteoporosis, a metabolic skeletal disease characterised by decreased bone mass and increased fracture risk, is a growing public health problem. Among the various risk factors for osteoporosis, calcium and vitamin D have well-established protective roles, but it is likely that other nutritional factors are also implicated. This review will explore the emerging evidence supporting a role for certain B-vitamins, homocysteine and the 677C→T polymorphism in the gene encoding the folate-metabolising enzyme methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, in bone health and disease. The evidence, however, is not entirely consistent and as yet no clear mechanism has been defined to explain the potential link between B-vitamins and bone health. Coeliac disease, a common condition of malabsorption, induced by gluten ingestion in genetically susceptible individuals, is associated with an increased risk both of osteoporosis and inadequate B-vitamin status. Given the growing body of evidence linking low bone mineral density and/or increased fracture risk with low B-vitamin status and elevated homocysteine, optimal B-vitamin status may play an important protective role against osteoporosis in coeliac disease; to date, no trial has addressed this possible link.

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* Corresponding author: Professor H. McNulty, fax +44 28 70124965, email
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