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Nutrition & Weight Control

2004 Edition

New Research:
Vitamin D May Prevent Hip Fractures Better than Calcium

Although the prevention of hip fractures has focused on calcium intake, vitamin D may be more important.

Women in a new observational study who consumed 12.5 micrograms (mcg) or more of vitamin D daily (from food or supplements) were 37% less likely to have a hip fracture than those who consumed less than 3.5 mcg daily. By contrast, women with high calcium intakes (1,200 mg per day or more) were just as likely to have a hip fracture as those with low intakes (less than 600 mg daily). Also, higher milk intake did not lower the risk of hip fracture. The study included 72,337 postmenopausal women who were followed for 18 years with periodic dietary assessments.

Randomized trials of calcium supplementation have shown that calcium intake can increase bone mass and decrease fracture risk in postmenopausal women. However, calcium was often given with vitamin D in these trials, clouding the issue of which nutrient is more important for bone health. Although milk is a common source of vitamin D, milk also contains vitamin A, which can have a detrimental effect on bone.

Postmenopausal women can improve their vitamin D intake through more frequent consumption of fatty fish such as salmon and sardines or the use of supplements, the authors conclude.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Volume 77, page 504
February 2003


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