Study: Osteoporosis, calcium and vitamin D

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In 2009, 19.2% of women and 3.4% of men aged 50 or older reported that they had been diagnosed with osteoporosis by a health professional.

Among people aged 71 or older, the percentages were much higher — 31.1% of women and 6.4% of men. These figures were unchanged from 2004.

This study profiles the population aged 50 or older who reported having been diagnosed with osteoporosis.

The odds of having been diagnosed with osteoporosis were also high for people in lower-income households, notably women aged 50 to 70. At age 71 or older, the percentage of women with osteoporosis did not differ significantly by household income.

In addition to age, sex and low income, diagnosed osteoporosis was significantly associated with alcohol consumption in the previous 12 months, high nutritional risk, and low body mass index.

Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by a loss of bone mass, increased bone fragility and risk of fracture. The condition primarily affects older people, particularly women, and is associated with the majority of fractures in people older than age 60.

Physicians often recommend increased intake of calcium and vitamin D for people with osteoporosis. Those with osteoporosis were, in fact, more likely to take supplements.

In 2004, the most recent year for which nutrition data are available, 28% of men and 48% of women aged 50 or older took calcium supplements. For individuals diagnosed with osteoporosis, the proportions were 36% of men and 59% of women.

In addition, 27% of men and 44% of women aged 50 or older reported taking vitamin D supplements. Among those with osteoporosis, the percentages taking vitamin D were higher at 38% for men and 57% for women.

Note: This study is based on self-reported data from 28,400 respondents aged 50 or older to the 2009 Canadian Community Health Survey: Healthy Aging. It also contains data on the intake of calcium and vitamin D from food from the 2004 Canadian Community Health Survey: Nutrition.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey numbers, including related surveys, 5049 and 5146.

The article, "Bone health: Osteoporosis, calcium and vitamin D," which is part of today's online release of Health Reports, Vol. 22, no. 3 (82-003-X, free), is now available from the Key resource module of our website under Publications. For information about this article, contact Didier Garriguet (613-951-7187;, Health Analysis Division.

For information about Health Reports, contact Janice Felman (613-951-6446;, Health Analysis Division.