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Presence of impaired intestinal calcium absorption in chronic hypovitaminosis D and its change after cholecalciferol supplementation: assessment by the calcium load test

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Abstract Background: 

Hypovitaminosis D is common in Asian Indians and its functional significance is currently under investigation. Previous studies have reported on the effect of low serum 25(OH)D levels (<50 nmol L−1) on bone mineral density and serum parathyroid hormone values. The present study assessed the effect of chronic hypovitaminosis D in Asian Indians on intestinal calcium absorption and its change after cholecalciferol supplementation. Methods: 

Subjects included 29 healthy volunteers [mean (SD) age, 28.4 ± 6.4 years] with low serum 25(OH)D levels on screening. Intestinal calcium absorption was assessed by the ‘calcium load test’ with 1 g of oral elemental calcium. Subjects were put on a calcium restricted diet 1 week prior to the test. The calcium load test was repeated in 26 of them after 8 weeks of supplementation with oral cholecalciferol (60 000 IU week−1). Results: 

The mean urinary calcium/creatinine ratio of the study subjects was 0.027 ± 0.023 mg mg−1 under fasting conditions and increased to 0.035 ± 0.032 mg mg−1 after calcium loading (delta change = 29.6%, P =0.33). After 8 weeks of cholecalciferol supplementation, the mean serum 25(OH)D increased from 18.9 ± 11.9 to 84.4 ± 34.9 nmol L−1 (P <0.0001). Concomitantly, the mean urinary calcium/creatinine ratio of the study subjects increased from 0.030 ± 0.024 mg mg−1 under fasting conditions to 0.059 ± 0.045 mg mg−1 after calcium loading (delta change = 96.6%, P =0.008). Conclusions: 

The results obtained in the present study show that chronic hypovitaminosis D in Asian Indians has functional relevance in terms of its effect on intestinal calcium absorption, which improves with cholecalciferol supplementation. These findings support the need for improving the vitamin D status of Asian Indians through dietary supplementation and exposure to sunshine.
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Keywords: 25(OH)D deficiency; calcium load test; intestinal calcium absorption

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India 2: Department of Gastroenterology & Human Nutrition, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India

Publication date: 2010-02-01

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