studies as intermediates related to bone health. Finally, although physical performance and the incidence of falls are defined by some as a component of bone health, these measures are reviewed separately in this report.
Compared with other potential indicators, this health outcome is characterized by a sizable number of RCTs as well as numerous observational studies from large cohorts. However, many of the studies evaluated calcium and vitamin D in combination, and there are relatively few studies that have evaluated the effects of calcium alone without vitamin D supplementation or vice versa. Given the nature of the available data and the need to integrate information to develop a set of measures reflective of bone health as a potential indicator for developing DRIs, this section is organized differently from those for other potential indicators. The understandings that link calcium and vitamin D to bone health and provide the basis for biological plausibility for an effect on bone health have been described in Chapters 2 and 3 and are therefore not repeated here. The many observational studies are briefly summarized.
Given the depth and breadth of the available AHRQ systematic analyses for the topic of bone health, the AHRQ analyses are considered in a single section. The two AHRQ analyses systematically reviewed, first, the published literature on the relationship between bone health and vitamin D (often in combination with calcium) (AHRQ-Ottawa) and, second, the relationship between bone health and vitamin D alone or vitamin D in combination with calcium (AHRQ-Tufts). Neither of the two AHRQ analyses considered calcium alone in relation to bone health. These two analyses have been described at the beginning of this chapter, and specific information about the studies included in AHRQ can be found in Appendixes C and D. Relevant information has been summarized and included in the tables presented below.
AHRQ included only minimal information about reproductive outcomes, and therefore the literature related to skeletal health during pregnancy and lactation is highlighted. AHRQ also included only minimal information about PTH level, a measure some investigators relate to bone health, so PTH level as a potential measure for bone health is examined separately.
The final component of this section integrates the available data on the basis of bone accretion, bone maintenance, and bone health. The preliminary step of specifying the utility of serum 25OHD level as a marker as well as the relationship between calcium absorption and serum 25OHD level provides the opening discussions for the integration section.
The observational studies surrounding bone health are myriad. However, as is the case with the evidence hierarchy, the basis for the relation-