Vitamin D supplementation and fracture incidence in elderly persons. A randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial

Ann Intern Med. 1996 Feb 15;124(4):400-6. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-124-4-199602150-00003.


Objective: To determine whether vitamin D supplementation decreases the incidence of hip fractures and other peripheral bone fractures.

Design: Prospective, double-blind trial.

Setting: Community setting (Amsterdam and surrounding area).

Patients: 2578 persons (1916 women, 662 men) 70 years of age and older (mean age +/- SD, 80 +/- 6 years) living independently, in apartments for elderly persons, or in homes for elderly persons.

Intervention: Participants were randomly assigned to receive either vitamin D3, 400 IU in one tablet daily, or placebo for a maximum of 3.5 years.

Measurements: Dietary calcium intake and serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] were estimated in a subset of participants. During follow-up, attention was concentrated on hip fractures and other peripheral fractures. The maximal follow-up period was 4 years. The results were evaluated by survival analysis.

Results: Mean dietary calcium intake from dairy products was 868 mg/d. Mean serum 25(OH)D concentration in the third year of the study was 23 nmol/L in the placebo group and 60 nmol/L in the vitamin D group. Median follow-up was 3.5 years, and total follow-up was 8450 patient-years. During follow-up, 306 persons in the placebo group and 282 persons in the vitamin D group died (P = 0.20). Hip fractures occurred in 48 persons in the placebo group and 58 persons in the vitamin D group (P = 0.39, intention-to-treat analysis). Other peripheral fractures occurred in 74 persons in the placebo group and 77 persons in the vitamin D group (P = 0.86).

Conclusion: Our results do not show a decrease in the incidence of hip fractures and other peripheral fractures in Dutch elderly persons after vitamin D supplementation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Calcium, Dietary / administration & dosage
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Fractures, Bone / etiology
  • Fractures, Bone / prevention & control*
  • Hip Fractures / etiology
  • Hip Fractures / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Hydroxycholecalciferols / blood
  • Male
  • Osteoporosis / complications
  • Patient Compliance
  • Prospective Studies
  • Survival Analysis
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage*


  • Calcium, Dietary
  • Hydroxycholecalciferols
  • Vitamin D