05/20/2010 - News

Annual Vitamin D Increases Fall and Fracture Risk

By: June Chen, MD


Studies investigating the effects of vitamin D supplementation on the risk of falls and fractures have yielded inconsistent results. While some meta-analyses have concluded that vitamin D supplementation reduces fracture risk by 13 to 26 percent, other studies have concluded that vitamin D is either ineffective or increases fracture risk. According to a study published in the May 12, 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, annual high-dose vitamin D supplementation increases the likelihood of falls and fractures among older community-dwelling women.

In order to determine whether a single annual dose of vitamin D would improve adherence to vitamin D supplementation and reduce the risk of falls and fracture, Australian researchers performed a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 2,256 community-dwelling women aged 70 and older who were considered to be at high risk of hip fracture. This risk was based on maternal hip fracture, past fracture, or self-reported history of falls. These women were randomly assigned to receive either high-dose vitamin D or placebo once a year. The researchers found that women who received vitamin D were 15 percent more likely to sustain falls and 26 percent more likely to experience fractures than those who received placebo.

Interestingly, the increased likelihood of falls in the vitamin D group was particularly significant in the 3-month period immediately following administration of the annual vitamin D dose. It may be that there is threshold level for vitamin D supplementation after which the risk of falls and fractures increases. However, further research is needed to assess the long-term safety of vitamin D supplementation and to determine whether there is an optimal vitamin D dose that consistently results in fall or fracture risk reduction.



JAMA 2010; 303(18): 1815-1822.


Created on: 05/20/2010
Reviewed on: 05/20/2010

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