The May 11 2005 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association published the results of a meta-analysis of 12 clinical trials involving vitamin D supplementation in the prevention of fracture. The analysis concluded that supplementation with higher than the commonly recommended 400 international unit (IU) doses of vitamin D reduces the risk of hip and nonvertebral fractures in older individuals.
The vitamin D studies included a total of 19,114 men and women aged 60 and older. The trials used the form of the vitamin known as cholecalciferol, or vitamin D3, which, according to studies cited in the current review, may be much more effective than the dietary form of the vitamin.
The researchers found that doses of 700 to 800 IU of vitamin D3 per day reduced the risk of hip fracture by 26 percent and nonvertebral fracture by 23 percent. Studies that used 400 IU vitamin D3 or less found no significant benefit for either type of fracture. The role of additional calcium supplementation could not clearly be defined from the studies, but it appears that at least 700 milligrams calcium per day may also be necessary for nonvertebral fracture prevention.