Supplements of Vitamin D plus Calcium protect everyone from fracture

January 21, 2010

     Daily supplements which combine vitamin D and calcium may reduce the risk of fractures for everyone regardless of age or gender say the results of a huge study.
Almost 70,000 people participated in the US and Europe and found that the vitamin-mineral combination significantly reduced all types of fractures by 8 per cent, and hip fractures by 16 per cent, according to results of a pooled analysis led by researchers at Copenhagen University in Denmark. “What is important about this very large study is that goes a long way toward resolving conflicting evidence about the role of vitamin D, either alone or in combination with calcium, in reducing fractures,” said co-author of the study, Professor John Robbins from the University of California, Davis.
     The researchers used data from seven major randomized trials of vitamin D with calcium or vitamin D alone, providing data from 68,517 people. The average age of the participants was 69.9, and 15 per cent of the people were men. According to findings published in the BMJ, trials which used only vitamin D at a dose of 10 or 20 micrograms showed no significant reductions in fracture risk. When 10 micrograms of the vitamin was taken with calcium, however, there were reduced risks of fracture and hip fracture of 8 and 16 per cent, respectively. The combination was effective “irrespective of age, sex, or previous fractures”, said the researchers. “This study supports a growing consensus that combined calcium and vitamin D is more effective than vitamin D alone in reducing a variety of fractures,” said Robbins. “Interestingly, this combination of supplements benefits both women and men of all ages, which is not something we fully expected to find. We now need to investigate the best dosage, duration and optimal way for people to take it,” he added. Estimates suggest that in the absence of primary prevention the number of hip fractures worldwide will increase to approximately 2.6 million by the year 2025, and 4.5 million by the year 2050. Osteoporosis weakens bone strength which increases the likelihood of hip fracture, a problem that increases with age.  The results of the large analysis is published in the British Medical Journal online ahead of print.