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Low vitamin D levels may increase fracture risk in elderly women

May 5, 2014

A new Swedish study reports that sufficient blood vitamin D concentrations seem to significantly lower the risk of hip fractures in older women.

In the observational study, blood vitamin D concentrations of 715 women, all aged 75 years, were measured and cases of fractures were documented during 10 years (1). The study results showed that the incidence of hip fractures was significantly lower in those women who had sufficient vitamin D levels (above 30 ng/ml resp. 75 nmol/l) at the beginning of the study and maintained sufficient levels at five years compared to wo- men who were deficient (below 20 ng/ml resp. 50 nmol/l) and were still deficient five years later. Vitamin D status was not associated with the incidence of shoulder, radius, and vertebral fractures.

The researchers commented that these findings, together with earlier results, suggest that falls and fracture risk in the elderly could be reduced by having higher vitamin D levels. While low levels of vitamin D in seni- ors have been shown to lead to an increased risk of osteoporotic fractures in many studies which used only single measurements of vitamin D levels, the new study measured the effects of long-term vitamin D insuffi- ciency on bone health. The International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) global recommendations for vita-
min D advise daily intakes of 800 to 1000 IU/day in seniors for fracture and falls prevention.

A recent study has found that the number of people being diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency has tripled from 2008 to 2010 in the United States (2). Some experts believe that up to 75% of the United States popu- lation may not be getting enough vitamin D (levels below 30 ng/ml). With such a high percentage of people at risk for vitamin D deficiency, doctors are increasingly testing patients for vitamin D levels, to check if they are getting enough.

References

  1. Buchebner D. et al. Vitamin D insufficiency sustained over 5 years contributes to increased 10-year fracture risk in elderly women D. Osteoporos Int. 2014; 25(2).
  2. Huang K. et al. Surge in US Outpatient Vitamin D Deficiency Diagnoses: National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey Analysis. Southern Medical Journal. 2014; 107(4).