According to an updated review from The Cochrane Library, a daily supplement of vitamin D with calcium can provide some protection against the risk of common bone fractures. Cochrane reviewers evaluated 53 studies with 91,791 participants to determine whether supplements with vitamin D alone or with additional calcium offered the best protection against fractures. Seniors were either given a placebo, vitamin D with calcium, or vitamin D supplements, including D2 and D3.

According to a Health Behavior News Service news release, the reviewers, led by Alison Avenell, MD, concluded that in the doses and formulations tested, supplements of vitamin D alone were unlikely to lower the risk of hip fractures for older adults. However, supplements of vitamin D with calcium did reduce the risk of hip fractures in nine of the studies. For low-risk seniors living in the community, those who took vitamin D with calcium had one less hip fracture per 1,000 older adults per year.

For seniors living in high-risk environments of hospitals and nursing homes, there were nine less hip fractures per 1,000 older adults per year, as indicated on the Health Behavior News Service news release. Avenell said the review supports the recommendation that at-risk older adults take vitamin D supplements with calcium. However, those with kidney stones, kidney disease, gastrointestinal disease, high blood calcium levels, or at-risk for heart disease should seek medical advice before taking the supplements.

Avenell explains, “I would only suggest calcium and vitamin D for fracture prophylaxis in very high risk populations, such as much older people in institutions such as nursing homes, who get no sunlight exposure at all. Even then, the risk of side effects may outweigh any preventive effect. I would not suggest vitamin D alone.”

Source: Health Behavior News Service