Effect of annual intramuscular vitamin D on fracture risk in elderly men and women--a population-based, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial

Rheumatology (Oxford). 2007 Dec;46(12):1852-7. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/kem240. Epub 2007 Nov 12.


Objectives: Low trauma fractures in older people incur enormous physical, social and economic costs. Previous research indicates that an annual intramuscular injection of vitamin D may reduce fracture rates in this group. This strategy requires validation in a population setting.

Methods: Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 300,000 IU intramuscular (i.m.) vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) injection or matching placebo every autumn over 3 years. 9440 people (4354 men and 5086 women) aged 75 yrs and over were recruited from general practice registers in Wessex, England. Primary outcome measure was all non-vertebral fracture. Secondary outcomes were hip and wrist fractures, and all falls.

Results: 585 subjects had incident non-spine fractures (hip 110, wrist 116, ankle 37). Hazard ratios (HRs) for fracture in the vitamin D group were: 1.09 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.93-1.28, P = 0.29] for any first fracture, 1.49 (95% CI 1.02-2.18, P = 0.04) for hip and 1.22 (95% CI 0.85-1.76, P = 0.28) for wrist. There was no effect on falls: HR 0.98 (0.93-1.04). No protective effect was observed in any subgroup when the cohort was stratified by sex, age, previous fracture or mobility.

Conclusions: An annual i.m. injection of 300,000 IU vitamin D2 is not effective in preventing non-vertebral fractures among elderly men and women resident in the general population.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bone Density / drug effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Ergocalciferols / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Fractures, Spontaneous / epidemiology*
  • Fractures, Spontaneous / prevention & control*
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Injections, Intramuscular
  • Male
  • Osteoporosis / prevention & control
  • Probability
  • Reference Values
  • Risk Assessment
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Ergocalciferols