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2007-8-31 17:32:07

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The risk of hip fracture can be reduced by taking oral vitamin D supplements, but only when the vitamin is taken along with calcium supplements, according to a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Dr. Steven Boonene from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium told Reuters Health that supplementation should be directed to those who are in need including elderly people age 75 or older and those who stay home all the time or institutionalized or patients with diagnosed osteoporosis or people who are on certain drugs such as steroids, which can reduce the bone mineral density.

In the study, Boonen and team compared two groups of people, one on vitamin D supplements only and the other on vitamin D plus calcium against a group who took a placebo.

The researchers found that the risk of hip fracture in the vitamin D only group was not statistically significant. However, the group took both vitamin D and calcium experienced a reduction of hip fracture risk by up to 25 percent.

Inadequate intake of calcium and vitamin D is often found in elderly people and a combo of calcium and vitamin D is needed to restore calcium balance and reduce the hip fracture risk.

The current recommendation for intake of vitamin D is too low for most people, say some experts, who have conducted research on vitamin D for decades.   The daily intake should be increased to 2000 IU from current 300 or 400 for adults.   

Sunshine is the best way to get vitamin D for most people.   Vitamin D supplements may not be as effective as the natural vitamin D which is bio-synthesized after the skin is exposed to sunshine.   Fish liver oil is another source of vitamin D.

Vitamin D has been found to provide a range of health benefits.   In addition to osteoporosis, vitamin D protect against cancer such as prostate cancer, breast cancer and colorectal cancer, autoimmune disease, and hypertension.

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