Effects of calcium and vitamin D supplementation on hip bone mineral density and calcium-related analytes in elderly ambulatory Australian women: a five-year randomized controlled trial

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Mar;93(3):743-9. doi: 10.1210/jc.2007-1466. Epub 2007 Dec 18.


Context: Effects of long-term calcium, with or without vitamin D, on hip bone mineral density (BMD) and bone turnover in sunny climates have not been reported.

Objective: The aim was to evaluate the effect of vitamin D added to calcium supplementation on hip dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry BMD and calcium-related analytes.

Design, setting, and participants: The study was a 5-yr randomized, controlled, double-blind trial of 120 community-dwelling women aged 70-80 yr.

Interventions: The interventions were 1200 mg/d calcium with placebo vitamin D (Ca group) or with 1000 IU/d vitamin D2 (CaD group), or double placebo (control).

Main outcome measures: Hip BMD, plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D, biomarkers of bone turnover, PTH, and intestinal calcium absorption were measured.

Results: Hip BMD was preserved in CaD (-0.17%) and Ca (0.19%) groups but not controls (-1.27%) at yr 1 and maintained in the CaD group only at yr 3 and 5. The beneficial effects were mainly in those with baseline 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels below the median (68 nmol/liter). At yr 1, compared with controls, the Ca and CaD groups had 6.8 and 11.3% lower plasma alkaline phosphatase, respectively (P<or=0.02), and 28.7 and 34.5% lower urinary deoxypyridinoline to creatinine ratio, respectively (P<or=0.05). At 5 yr, this suppression was maintained only in the CaD group. CaD reduced PTH at 3 and 5 yr cf. controls (27.8 and 31.3%, P<or=0.005) in those with baseline PTH levels above the median (3.6 pmol/liter). Therapy did not affect intestinal calcium absorption at high carrier loads.

Conclusions: Addition of vitamin D to calcium has long-term beneficial effects on bone density in elderly women living in a sunny climate, probably mediated by a long-term reduction in bone turnover rate.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Ambulatory Care
  • Bone Density
  • Calcium / administration & dosage*
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption
  • Parathyroid Hormone / blood
  • Patient Compliance
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives
  • Vitamin D / blood


  • Parathyroid Hormone
  • Vitamin D
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D
  • Calcium