Vitamin D3 supplementation and risk of fractures.




British Medical Journal

Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Vitamin D
Professional Data: Vitamin D


Vitamin D is known as the "sunshine" vitamin because it is formed in the body by the action of the sun's ultraviolet rays on the skin. The fat-soluble vitamin was isolated in 1930 and is converted in the kidneys to the hormone calcitrol, which is actually the most active form of vitamin D. Since then more metabolites have been found, and the two major forms of this vitamin are now known to be vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). The effects of this hormone are targeted at the intestines and bones.

Vitamin D is important for the growth and development of bones and teeth. For this reason, vitamin D is an important growth nutrient for infants and children. Vitamin D is one of the primary regulators of calcium absorption, which is also important for proper bone health and development.

Published in the British Medical Journal, a recent study examined the effects of a vitamin D3 supplement on bone fractures. Participants over 65 years of age received a 100,000 IU dose of D3 every four months, or placebo. For the next five years of this study, researchers documented any bone fractures or causes of death. Of the 2,686 participants, 268 men and women had fractures. When the two study groups were compared, the results showed that the vitamin D3 group had fewer fractures than those of the placebo group. The results were the same for both men and women. The authors concluded that there were not side effects of the treatment and that this type of supplementation may prevent bone fractures.1


1. Trivedi DP, et al. Effect of four monthly oral vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) supplementation on fractures and mortality in men and women living in the community: randomised double blind controlled trial. BMJ. Mar 2003;326(7387):469.