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Vitamin D And Calcium Prevent Hip Fractures

The risk of hip and other nonvertebral fractures (i.e. those which affect bones other than the backbone) increases with age and is reaching near-epidemic proportions in some developed countries. Although many factors contribute to these fractures, the most important causes are a reduction in bone mass and an increased frequency of falls. Bone density is […]

The risk of hip and other nonvertebral fractures (i.e. those which affect bones other than the backbone) increases with age and is reaching near-epidemic proportions in some developed countries. Although many factors contribute to these fractures, the most important causes are a reduction in bone mass and an increased frequency of falls. Bone density is known to decrease with age. This is partly due to an increase in the level of the hormone parathyroid, caused by lack of vitamin D and calcium.

A recent study involving almost 3,300 women over the age of 69 examined the effect of vitamin D and calcium supplementation on nonvertebral fractures over a period of 18 months. Half the women received 1.2g of elemental calcium and 800 iu of vitamin D, while the other group was given a placebo (dummy tablet). The women’s clinical status was assessed at the start of the study and then again at 6, 12 and 18 months.

Among the women who completed the study, the number of hip fractures was 43% lower and the total number of nonvertebral fractures was 32% lower among the women given the supplements than among those receiving placebo. In the group receiving supplements, levels of the hormone parathyroid had decreased by 44% and bone density had increased by 2.7%, while in the placebo group, bone density had decreased by 4.6%. Thus the study provides clear evidence that supplementation with vitamin D and calcium reduces the risk of hip fractures and other nonvertebral fractures among elderly women.

Marie D Chapuy et al: N Engl J Med (1992) 327:1637-42 ‘Vitamin D and Calcium to Prevent Hip Fractures in Elderly Women’.

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