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Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Feb;77(2):504-11.

Calcium, vitamin D, milk consumption, and hip fractures: a prospective study among postmenopausal women.

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  • 1Channing Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.



Short trials of calcium supplementation show that it reduces loss of bone density in postmenopausal women; longer observational studies do not generally find a lower risk of hip fracture with higher-calcium diets. Fewer studies have focused on vitamin D in preventing postmenopausal osteoporosis or fractures.


We assessed relations between postmenopausal hip fracture risk and calcium, vitamin D, and milk consumption.


In an 18-y prospective analysis in 72 337 postmenopausal women, dietary intake and nutritional supplement use were assessed at baseline in 1980 and updated several times during follow-up. We identified 603 incident hip fractures resulting from low or moderate trauma. Relative risks (RRs) from proportional hazards models were controlled for other dietary and nondietary factors.


Women consuming > or = 12.5 microg vitamin D/d from food plus supplements had a 37% lower risk of hip fracture (RR = 0.63; 95% CI: 0.42, 0.94) than did women consuming < 3.5 microg/d. Total calcium intake was not associated with hip fracture risk (RR = 0.96; 95% CI: 0.68, 1.34 for > or = 1200 compared with < 600 mg/d). Milk consumption was also not associated with a lower risk of hip fracture (P for trend = 0.21).


An adequate vitamin D intake is associated with a lower risk of osteoporotic hip fractures in postmenopausal women. Neither milk nor a high-calcium diet appears to reduce risk. Because women commonly consume less than the recommended intake of vitamin D, supplement use or dark fish consumption may be prudent.

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