An analysis of trials involving over 30 thousand older adults carried out by the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging in the USA proposed that high doses of vitamin D may prevent bone fractures in the elderly. The study, which amalgamated research into the effects of daily vitamin D intake on bone fractures has been published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
The analysis found that supplementation of between 800–2000 IUs (20–50µg) of vitamin D per day “…significantly reduced the risk of most fractures… in both men and women aged 65 and older…” according to senior author, Professor Bess Dawson-Hughes. The authors also found, perhaps surprisingly, that supplementation below 800 IU per day had no benefit on fracture risk.
The elderly are at a higher risk of bone fractures due to a higher prevalence of conditions such as osteoporosis and bone density loss. Fractures of the wrist, forearm and hip can all be reduced through supplementation with vitamin D. The authors suggest that vitamin D supplements could be seen as a cost effective way of preventing fractures in the elderly and would avoid the cost, both to the patient and the health service, of orthopaedic surgery.