Optimal Dose of Calcium for Treatment of Nutritional Rickets: A Randomized Controlled Trial

J Bone Miner Res. 2016 Nov;31(11):2024-2031. doi: 10.1002/jbmr.2886. Epub 2016 Sep 7.


Calcium supplementation is indicated for the treatment of nutritional rickets. Our aim was to determine the optimal dose of calcium for treatment of children with rickets. Sixty-five Nigerian children with radiographically confirmed rickets were randomized to daily supplemental calcium intake of 500 mg (n = 21), 1000 mg (n = 23), or 2000 mg (n = 21). Venous blood, radiographs, and forearm areal bone density (aBMD) were obtained at baseline and at 8, 16, and 24 weeks after enrollment. The primary outcome was radiographic healing, using a 10-point radiographic severity score. The radiographic severity scores improved in all three groups, but the rate of radiographic healing (points per month) was significantly more rapid in the 1000-mg (-0.29; 95% confidence interval [CI] -0.13 to -0.45) and 2000-mg (-0.36; 95% CI -0.19 to -0.53) supplementation groups relative to the 500-mg group. The 2000-mg group did not heal more rapidly than the 1000-mg group. Of those who completed treatment for 24 weeks, 12 (67%), 20 (87%), and 14 (67%) in the 2000-mg, 1000-mg, and 500-mg groups, respectively, had achieved a radiographic score of 1.5 or less (p = 0.21). Serum alkaline phosphatase decreased and calcium increased similarly in all groups. Forearm diaphyseal aBMD improved significantly more rapidly in the 2000-mg group than in the 500-mg and 1000-mg groups (p < 0.001). Daily calcium intakes of 1000 mg or 2000 mg produced more rapid radiographic healing of rickets than 500 mg, but 2000 mg did not have greater benefit than 1000 mg. Some children require longer than 24 weeks for complete healing of nutritional rickets. © 2016 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.


Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bone Density
  • Calcium / administration & dosage*
  • Calcium / therapeutic use*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diaphyses / physiopathology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Forearm / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Rickets / diagnostic imaging
  • Rickets / drug therapy*
  • Rickets / physiopathology
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Calcium