Vitamin D alone could prevent fractures in elderly

Related tags Vitamin d supplements Vitamin d

Vitamin D supplements can reduce fractures in elderly men and
women, finds a study in this week's British Medical Journal.
Previous research shows that vitamin D taken with calcium can help
prevent fractures in the elderly, but this study demonstrates that
vitamin D can have a significant effect on its own - risk of
fracture dropping 22 per cent in participants.

Vitamin D supplements can reduce fractures in elderly men and women, finds a study in this week's British Medical Journal​.

In a group of more than 2,500 people over 65, four-monthly supplementation with vitamin D during a five-year period reduced the incidence of fracture by 22 per cent, according to the researchers. And fractures in major osteoporotic sites dropped by 33 per cent.

While researchers have already established that vitamin D along with calcium supplements helps prevent fractures in the elderly, there has been little evidence showing that vitamin D alone can have an effect. However scientists are beginning to attribute increasing importance to the role of the vitamin in bone health.

A recent study by researchers at the Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Harvard Medical School, Boston found that an adequate vitamin D intake can lower the risk of osteoporotic hip fractures in post-menopausal women. They compared this to consumption of calcium, both in supplement form and in food, and both failed to have a long-term effect.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine and the University of Oxford identified 2,686 people (2,037 men and 649 women) aged 65-85 years living in the general community. They sent one capsule containing 100,000 IU vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) or a matching placebo by post to the participants every four months for five years (15 doses in total). They asked participants to take the capsule immediately and complete and return a checklist of events (fracture or major illness).

Participants in the vitamin D treatment group had a 22 per cent lower rate for first fracture at any site and a 33 per cent lower rate for a fracture occurring in common osteoporotic sites (hip, wrist or forearm, or vertebrae). The team added that findings were consistent in men and women and in doctors and the general practice population.

The researchers concluded that vitamin D supplements could be an effective method for reducing fractures in those over 65. Many interventions effective in high risk groups are not feasible in the general population owing to poor compliance, side effects or high costs, write the authors. However the cost of four monthly vitamin D capsules is less than £1 annually.

Related topics Research Suppliers Healthy ageing

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