VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY INCREASES RISK OF HIP FRACTURE IN OLDER WOMEN
Underlying vitamin D deficiency in post-menopausal women is associated with increased risk of hip fracture, according to investigators at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.
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In a group of women with osteoporosis hospitalized for hip fracture, 50 percent were found to have a previously undetected vitamin D deficiency. In the control group, women who had not suffered a hip fracture but who were hospitalized for an elective hip replacement, only a very small percentage had vitamin D deficiency, although one-fourth of those women also had osteoporosis.
These findings were reported in the April 28, 1999,
issue of the "Journal of the American Medical
Association". The study, conducted by Meryl S.
LeBoff, MD; Lynn Kohlmeier, MD; Shelley Hurwitz, PhD;
Jennifer Franklin, BA; John Wright, MD; and Julie
Glowacki, PhD; of the Endocrine Hypertension Division,
Department of Internal Medicine, and Department of
Orthopedic Surgery, Brigham and Women's Hospital,
Boston, was supported by grants from the National
These investigators studied women admitted to either
Brigham and Women's Hospital or the New England Baptist
Hospital, both in Boston, between January 1995 and June
1998. A group of 98 postmenopausal women who
normally reside in their own homes were chosen for the
study. Women with bone deterioration from other
causes were excluded from the study. There were 30
women with hip fractures caused by osteoporosis and 68
hospitalized for elective joint replacement.
The two groups of women with osteoporosis did not
differ significantly in either time since menopause or
bone density in the spine or hip. They did,
however, differ in total bone density. The women
admitted for a hip fracture had fewer hours
These researchers propose that vitamin D supplementation at the time of fracture may speed up recovery and reduce risk of fracture in the future. Current Dietary Reference Intake Guidelines contain a daily recommendation of 400 IU of vitamin D for people aged 51 through 70 and 600 IU for those over age 70.
"We know that a calcium-rich diet and regular weight-bearing exercise can help prevent osteoporosis. This new research suggests that an adequate intake of vitamin D, which the body uses to help absorb calcium, may help women to reduce their risk of hip fracture, even when osteoporosis is present," observed Dr. Evan C. Hadley, NIA Associate Director for geriatrics research.
"Osteoporosis leads to more than 300,000 hip fractures
each year, causing pain, frequent disability, and costly
hospitalizations or long-term care. Prevention of such
fractures would greatly improve the quality of life for
many older women and men,
Experts do not understand fully the causes of
osteoporosis. However, they do know that lack of
estrogen which accompanies menopause, diets low in
calcium, and lack of exercise contribute to the
problem. Eighty percent of older Americans