Poverty associated with inadequate intakes of calcium and vitamin D, says recent study


A recent study conducted by Pharmavite LLC shows that older adults living below the poverty line have inadequate intakes of calcium and vitamin D, putting them at greater risk of osteoporosis.


Photo © iStockphoto.com/monkeybusinessimages

A recent study1 conducted by Pharmavite LLC (West Hills, CA) shows that older adults living below the poverty line have inadequate intakes of calcium and vitamin D, putting them at greater risk of osteoporosis. Researchers performed a cross-sectional analysis of United States population using National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data from 2007–2010 and 2013–2014 for older US adults (n = 3,901 participants, 50 years old and older).

According to the study, based on current U.S. population estimates, 14 million Americans age 50 and older are expected to have suffered from probable osteoporosis in 2019, representing about 10% of the total Americans in this age group. Within this group, women are more likely to be affected (16.2%) compared to men (4.6%). Looking at these figures from a nutrient intake perspective, the researchers estimate that 60% of the cohort have inadequate calcium intakes (72.4% of females; 51.4% of males) and 36.7% (24.1% of females; 39.7% of males) of this cohort have inadequate vitamin D intake. Of Americans over the age of 50 and older, it’s estimated that only 30% supplement with calcium and vitamin D.

Among Americans ages 50 and older, an estimate 23% belong to households with an annual income below $20,000. Researchers determined that 68% (74.3% of females; 58.9% of males) of this income bracket have inadequate calcium intake level, and 43% (39.4% of females; 46.7% of males) have inadequate vitamin D intake. Household income is also strongly associated with relative risk of osteoporosis. Adults 50 years of age or older belonging to a household with a household income less than $20,000 have a 60% relative risk of osteoporosis, compared to high income brackets. When considering the combined effect of household income and nutrient intake, researchers determined that the relative risk of osteoporosis was greater by 45% for those with inadequate intakes of calcium, by 41.1% for those with inadequate intakes of vitamin D.

When analyzing this data by ethnicity, the effect of poverty levels on risk of osteoporosis had the greatest impact on Mexican Americans, specifically females, and non-Hispanic whites of both genders. In addition, non-Hispanic black men with lower incomes are twice as likely to develop osteoporosis compared to higher income counterparts, despite a lower risk of osteoporosis among non-Hispanic black people overall. While food insecurity does play a significant role on inadequate intakes of calcium and vitamin D, it does not appear to play a large role in relative risk of osteoporosis unless ethnicity is taken into consideration. Non-Hispanic whites reporting food insecurity have a 68.1% greater relative risk of osteoporosis compared to food secure counterparts, and food-insecure Mexican Americans have a 26% greater relative risk of osteoporosis.

“This study continues to demonstrate how prevalent nutrient deficiency is among the U.S. population, and even more so, among lower income individuals and those with food insecurities,” said Susan Hazels Mitmesser, PhD, vice president of science and technology at Pharmavite, in a press release. “Improving the consumption of nutrient-rich and fortified foods among individuals that live in poverty can help to decrease their chances of developing osteoporosis. Additionally, dietary supplements can play a critical role in helping any underserved population meet their nutrition needs —including making supplements readily available through programs like SNAP, for example. Our research demonstrates that participants with SNAP benefits and more access to food, have fewer nutrient inadequacies which helps them meet their nutrition needs.”


  1. Marshall K et al. “Inadequate calcium and vitamin D intake and osteoporosis risk in older Americans living in poverty with food insecurities.” Plos One, Published online ahead of print on July 8, 2020
Related Videos
woman working on laptop computer by window
Related Content
© 2024 MJH Life Sciences

All rights reserved.