Dietary Iron Is Associated with Bone Mineral Density in Healthy Postmenopausal Women

Margaret M. Harris, Linda B. Houtkooper, Vanessa A. Stanford, Carly Parkhill, Judith L. Weber, Hilary Flint-Wagner, Lauren Weiss, Scott B. Going, Timothy G. Lohman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


Healthy nonsmoking postmenopausal women (n = 242; ages 40-66 y) were included in the Bone, Estrogen, and Strength Training (BEST) Study. Bone mineral density (BMD) was measured at five sites (lumbar spine L2-L4, trochanter, femur neck, Ward's triangle and total body) using dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Mean nutrient intakes were assessed using a 3-d diet record. Regression models were calculated using each BMD site as the dependent variable and iron as the independent variable. Covariates included in the models were years past menopause, fat-free mass, fat mass, use of hormone replacement therapy, total energy intake and dietary intake of protein and calcium. Using linear models, iron was associated with greater BMD at all sites (P ≤ 0.01), even after adjusting for protein and/or calcium. Increasing levels of iron intake (>20 mg) were associated with greater BMD at several bone sites among women with a mean calcium intake of 800-1200 mg/d. Elevated iron intake was not associated with greater BMD among women with higher (>1200 mg/d) or lower calcium intakes (<800 mg/d). Dietary iron may be a more important factor in bone mineralization than originally thought and, its combined effect with calcium on BMD warrants exploration in future studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3598-3602
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2003


  • Bone mineral density
  • Dietary calcium
  • Dietary iron
  • Postmenopausal women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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