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Proc Nutr Soc. 2013 Nov;72(4):372-80. doi: 10.1017/S0029665113002036. Epub 2013 Sep 11.

Vitamin D and bone health outcomes in older age.

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School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development and Human Nutrition Research Centre, Newcastle University, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne NE1 7RU, UK.


The aim of this review is to summarise the evidence linking vitamin D to bone health outcomes in older adults. A plethora of scientific evidence globally suggests that large proportions of people have vitamin D deficiency and are not meeting recommended intakes. Older adults are at particular risk of the consequences of vitamin D deficiency owing to a combination of physiological and behavioural factors. Epidemiological studies show that low vitamin D status is associated with a variety of negative skeletal consequences in older adults including osteomalacia, reduced bone mineral density, impaired Ca absorption and secondary hyperparathyroidism. There seems to be inconsistent evidence for a protective role of vitamin D supplementation alone on bone mass. However, it is generally accepted that vitamin D (17·5 μg/d) in combination with Ca (1200 mg/d) reduces bone loss among older white subjects. Evidence for a benefit of vitamin D supplementation alone on reducing fracture risk is varied. According to a recent Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality review in the USA the evidence base shows mixed results for a beneficial effect of vitamin D on decreasing overall fracture risk. Limitations such as poor compliance with treatment, incomplete assessment of vitamin D status and large drop-out rates however, have been highlighted within some studies. In conclusion, it is generally accepted that vitamin D in combination with Ca reduces the risk of non-vertebral fractures particularly those in institutional care. The lack of data on vitamin D and bone health outcomes in certain population groups such as diverse racial groups warrants attention.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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