Effect of calcium or 25OH vitamin D3 dietary supplementation on bone loss at the hip in men and women over the age of 60

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2000 Sep;85(9):3011-9. doi: 10.1210/jcem.85.9.6836.


Dietary supplements that prevent bone loss at the hip and that can be applied safely in the elderly are likely to reduce hip fractures. A daily dietary supplement of 750 mg calcium or 15 microg 25OH vitamin D3 on bone loss at the hip and other sites, bone turnover and calcium-regulating hormones were studied over 4 yr in elderly volunteers using a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Bone mineral density (BMD) was measured by dual x-ray absorptiometry and bone structure by radiographs. Calcium biochemistry and bone turnover markers were measured in blood and urine. The 316 women entering the trial had a mean age of 73.7 yr and the 122 men of 75.9 yr. Baseline median calcium intake was 546 mg/day, and median serum 25OH vitamin D3 was 59 nmol/L. On placebo, loss of BMD at total hip was 2% and femoral medulla expansion was 3% over 4 yr. Calcium reduced bone loss, secondary hyperparathyroidism, and bone turnover. 25OH vitamin D3 was intermediate between placebo and calcium. Fracture rates and drop-out rates were similar among groups, and there were no serious adverse events with either supplement. A calcium supplement of 750 mg/day prevents loss of BMD, reduces femoral medullary expansion, secondary hyperparathyroidism, and high bone turnover. A supplement of 15 microg/day 25OH vitamin D3 is less effective, and because its effects are seen only at low calcium intakes, suggests that its beneficial effect is to reverse calcium insufficiency.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biomarkers
  • Bone Density
  • Bone and Bones / anatomy & histology
  • Bone and Bones / diagnostic imaging
  • Calcifediol / blood
  • Calcifediol / pharmacology*
  • Calcium / blood
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Calcium / pharmacology*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Hip / physiology*
  • Hormones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoporosis / drug therapy*
  • Osteoporosis / pathology
  • Parathyroid Hormone / blood
  • Radiography


  • Biomarkers
  • Hormones
  • Parathyroid Hormone
  • Calcifediol
  • Calcium