, Volume 51, Issue 2, pp 105-110

Annual injection of vitamin D and fractures of aged bones

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In order to investigate the effect of a supplementation of vitamin D in the prophylaxis of fractures of the bones of aged people, an annual intramuscular injection of ergocalciferol (150,000–300,000 IU) was given to two series of aged subjects: first to 199 (45 male) of 479 subjects (110 male) aged more than 85 years who were living in their own home, and second to 142 (29 male) of 320 (58 male) subjects aged 75–84 and living in a home for aged people. This prospective series was divided into treatment groups according to month of birth. These injections were given annually from September to December in the years 1985–1989, two to five times to each participant. The fracture rates, laboratory values, vitamin D levels, possible side effects, and mortality were followed until October 1990. A total of 56 fractures occurred in the 341 vitamin D recipients (16.4%) and 100 in 458 controls (21.8%) (P=0.034). The fracture rate was about the same in both outpatient and municipal home series. Fractures of the upper limb were fewer in the vitamin D recipients, 10/341=2.9% (P=0.025), than in the controls, 28/458=6.1%, during the follow-up. A similar result was obtained in fractures of ribs, 3/341=0.9% and 12/458=2.6%, respectively. Fractures of the lower limbs occurred almost as frequently, 31/341=9.1%, among the vitamin D recipients as among the controls, 49/458=10.7%. The fracture rate was higher in females (22.2%) than in males (9.5%). The fractures were fewer in the vitamin D recipients only in females. No significant differences were found in total mortality, or due to any group of diseases, between the two treatment groups. No deleterious effects of the vitamin D injections were seen. The authors recommend the supplementation of vitamin D in aged people, at least in northernmost latitudes (e.g., as an annual intramuscular injection).