Can vitamin D supplementation reduce the risk of fracture in the elderly? A randomized controlled trial

J Bone Miner Res. 2002 Apr;17(4):709-15. doi: 10.1359/jbmr.2002.17.4.709.


Randomized controlled trials have shown that a combination of vitamin D and calcium can prevent fragility fractures in the elderly. Whether this effect is attributed to the combination of vitamin D and calcium or to one of these nutrients alone is not known. We studied if an intervention with 10 microg of vitamin D3 per day could prevent hip fracture and other osteoporotic fractures in a double-blinded randomized controlled trial. Residents from 51 nursing homes were allocated randomly to receive 5 ml of ordinary cod liver oil (n = 569) or 5 ml of cod liver oil where vitamin D was removed (n = 575). During the study period of 2 years, fractures and deaths were registered, and the principal analysis was performed on the intention-to-treat basis. Biochemical markers were measured at baseline and after 1 year in a subsample. Forty-seven persons in the control group and 50 persons in the vitamin D group suffered a hip fracture. The corresponding figures for all nonvertebral fractures were 76 persons (control group) and 69 persons (vitamin D group). There was no difference in the incidence of hip fracture (p = 0.66, log-rank test), or in the incidence of all nonvertebral fractures (p = 0.60, log-rank test) in the vitamin D group compared with the control group. Compared with the control group, persons in the vitamin D group increased their serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration with 22 nmol/liter (p = 0.001). In conclusion, we found that an intervention with 10 microg of vitamin D3 alone produced no fracture-preventing effect in a nursing home population of frail elderly people.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cod Liver Oil / therapeutic use
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone / etiology
  • Fractures, Bone / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Osteoporosis / complications
  • Osteoporosis / drug therapy*
  • Risk Factors
  • Vitamin D / therapeutic use*


  • Vitamin D
  • Cod Liver Oil