A recent study found that long-term low levels of vitamin D are related to higher 10-year fracture risk in elderly women.
Osteroporosis is a disease of the bone that results in decreased bone mass and density, which can increase the risk of fractures.
Low levels of vitamin D in seniors have been shown to lead to an increased risk of fractures in many studies. However, these previous studies involved only single measurements of vitamin D levels. There is little information about the effects long-term vitamin D insufficiency has on bone health.
The study was presented at the World Congress on Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases, the largest educational event and clinical research forum for osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and musculoskeletal diseases in Europe.
Swedish researchers took baseline measurements of vitamin D levels of 715 women, all aged 75 years. Levels were classified as low (<20 ng/ml), intermediate (20-30 ng/ml) and high (>30 ng/ml). Their levels were measured again five years later.
Researchers measured the incidence of fractures for 10 years after the start of the study. They wanted to see if low vitamin D levels were associated with an increased incidence of osteoporotic fractures.
The results were intriguing. The incidence of hip fractures within 10 years was significantly lower in those women who were vitamin D sufficient at baseline and maintained sufficient levels at 5 years compared to women who were deficient and were still deficient 5 years later. Interestingly, vitamin D status was not associated with the incidence of shoulder, radius, and vertebral fractures.
Professor Kristina Akesson, Clinical and Molecular Osteoporosis Research Unit at Lund University in Sweden, stated, “This is part of a body of research which increasingly suggests that falls and fracture risk in the elderly could be lower by having higher vitamin D levels.”