thumb_vitamin_d_coverSpeaking at the European Symposium on Calcified Tissue in Vienna today (27 May), Professor Bo Abrahamsen from the Copenhagen University Hospital Gentofte in Denmark, described the results from a major study analyzing seven trials examining the effects of low doses of vitamin D with calcium in 68,500 patients.

Participants in the study were aged 47 – 107 years old, average age 69.  Their age, gender and fracture history were taken into account, together with medication such as hormone replacement therapy and bisphosphonates (used in the treatment of post-menopausal osteoporosis and osteoporosis in males).  Patients in all the trials included were randomised to receive either vitamin D (given alone or with calcium, usually in the form of 1000 mg calcium carbonate daily) or no active treatment. “The real strength of this study was that we were looking at groups and individuals, not just summary statistics. We were able to calculate absolute fracture rates and the time to treatment effects,” he said.

After about 16 months, the reduction in hip fracture rates by 20% was seen in people who took vitamin D (10ug; 400 IU) and calcium (1000 mg) together, regardless of age, gender and fracture  history. Fracture rate in other bones was reduced by 10%.  “Vitamin D on its own is not very effective, even if the dose is doubled,” said Professor Abrahamsen, a consultant physician at the hospital. “In people over fifty, the combination of vitamin D with calcium, however, seems to work equally well in people with or without a history of bone fractures – this is important new knowledge,” he said.