When Sticks And Stones Can Break Your Bones

Osteoporosis linked to inflammatory bowel disease and vitamin deficiency

(RxWiki News) Loss of bone mass with age is normal but can be dangerous if it occurs too quickly or prematurely. Low bone mass results in weak bones that have a higher chance of fracture.

This loss of bone mass is often associated with conditions like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Researchers are trying to understand why.

A recent study evaluates bone mineral density (BMD) and bone metabolism in patients with inflammatory bowel disease.

The study found a high incidence of low BMD in IBD patients which may be worsened by vitamin D deficiency.

"Discuss supplements and vitamin rich food sources with your doctor."

Corresponding author, Parisa Rezaeifar, MD of Tabriz University of Medical Sciences in Iran and team conducted a cross-section study of 200 patients with IBD in Iran.

The participants were given a questionnaire that was followed up with an in-person interview to gather information regarding current disease and history of possible risk factors.

The study participants were then examined by medical residents, evaluated on the severity of their disease and assessed for BMD of the lumbar spine and femoral neck using X-ray.

Calcium, phosphate, alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and vitamin D were measured to understand the bone metabolism status.

The results showed that 91.5 percent of the patients had ulcerative colitis and 8.5 percent had Crohn’s disease.

Of the study participants, 74.4 percent had either low femoral neck or lumbar spine BMD.

Of those with low BMD at the femoral neck or lumbar spine, 50.3 percent had bones somewhat less dense than normal, but not as severe as in osteoporosis, and 24.1 percent were osteoporotic.

Partipants with ulcerative colitis were less likely to have low BMD than those with Chron’s disease.

Calcium, ALP and vitamin D levels for both conditions were in the normal range, although a link was seen between bone density and ALP or vitamin D in patient with ulcerative colitis.

This means that vitamin D deficiency may contribute to bone loss in IBD patients and is more pronounced in those with ulcerative colitis.

This study suggests that there are several things IBD patients can do to reduce their chances of developing osteoporosis.

Patients should undergo routine examination with particular attention to their BMD and may consider taking vitamin D and calcium supplements.

Deborah Gordon, MD, and CEO of DrDeborahMD.com, said she recommends people first try to up their intake of foods with the vitamins they are deficient in and then try supplements if that's not enough.

It's important to ensure you are getting all the vitamins and minerals you need because the digestive tract needs to work as a unit.

"The recently examined association between inflammatory bowel disease and disordered bone metabolism spotlights the importance of a vital digestive system," Dr. Gordon said.

The study was published in the July-August edition of The Saudi Journal of Gastroenterology.

The study was funded by The Liver and Gastrointestinal Diseases Research Center at the Tabriz University of Medical Science, Imam Reza Hospital in Tabriz, Iran.

The researchers report no conflict of interest.

Review Date: 
August 29, 2012