Calcium and vitamin D supplements given to elderly, community-dwelling women at high risk of fracture does not appear to reduce their risk, according to the results of a new study published in the British Medical Journal.
Though commonly prescribed to prevent the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis, which often develops in middle and old age, this report is the second one this week showing the supplements to be of little benefit. Researchers who conducted a similar study, published in The Lancet, came to the same conclusion.
Principal investigator Dr. David J. Torgerson, at the University of York and colleagues in the UK enrolled 3314 women age 70 or older with at least one risk factor for hip fracture. These included body weight of less than 58 kg, any previous fracture, maternal history of hip fracture, smoking, and poor or fair health.
A total 1321 were randomly assigned to receive 1000 mg calcium plus 800 IU vitamin D daily and were given an information leaflet, and 1993 were given the leaflet only.
During an average follow-up period of 25 months, there were 149 fractures total, with no significant difference between the two groups. The findings were similar when hip and wrist fractures were considered separately.
There was also no difference between the two groups in number of falls or in the quality of life.