Vitamin D can prevent fractures in older people

Effect of four monthly oral vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) supplementation on fractures and mortality in men and women living in the community: randomised double blind controlled trial, BMJ Volume 326, pp 469-72

Vitamin D supplements reduce fractures in men and women aged over 65 living in the general community, finds a study in this week's BMJ.

Researchers identified 2,686 people (2,037 men and 649 women) aged 65-85 years living in the community. They sent one capsule containing 100,000 IU vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) or matching placebo by post 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% lower rate for first fracture at any site and a 33% lower rate for a fracture occurring in common osteoporotic sites (hip, wrist or forearm, or vertebrae).

Many interventions effective in high risk groups are not feasible in the general population owing to poor compliance or side effects or are not cost effective, say the authors. In contrast, the cost of four monthly vitamin D capsules is less than £1 annually, they conclude.


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