Ageing alters the metabolism of calcium and vitamin D in a number of ways. Intake of calcium and vitamin D, exposure to sunlight, cutaneous production of vitamin D3, renal production of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25(OH)2D3), intestinal absorption of calcium and the ability to adapt to a low calcium diet may all be reduced in elderly subjects. As a consequence, secondary hyperparathyroidism often occurs with ageing and can contribute to accelerated bone loss. In fact, alterations in calcium and vitamin D metabolism may be widespread in the ageing population and play a central role in the pathogenesis of senile (age-related) osteoporosis. From a preventive point of view, recent intervention studies have indicated the need to optimize calcium intake and to maintain serum 25(OH)D3 levels within the normal range in elderly people.