Vitamin D: What is an adequate vitamin D level and how much supplementation is necessary?
Strong evidence indicates that many or most adults in the United States and Europe would benefit from vitamin D supplements with respect to fracture and fall prevention, and possibly other public health targets, such as cardiovascular health, diabetes and cancer. This review discusses the amount of vitamin D supplementation needed and a desirable 25-hydroxyvitamin D level to be achieved for optimal musculoskeletal health. Vitamin D modulates fracture risk in two ways: by decreasing falls and increasing bone density. Two most recent meta-analyses of double-blind randomised controlled trials came to the conclusion that vitamin D reduces the risk of falls by 19%, the risk of hip fracture by 18% and the risk of any non-vertebral fracture by 20%; however, this benefit was dose dependent. Fall prevention was only observed in a trial of at least 700 IU vitamin D per day, and fracture prevention required a received dose (treatment dose*adherence) of more than 400 IU vitamin D per day. Anti-fall efficacy started with achieved 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels of at least 60 nmol l(-1) (24 ng ml(-1)) and anti-fracture efficacy started with achieved 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels of at least 75 nmol l(-1) (30 ng ml(-1)) and both endpoints improved further with higher achieved 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels. Founded on these evidence-based data derived from the general older population, vitamin D supplementation should be at least 700-1000 IU per day and taken with good adherence to cover the needs for both fall and fracture prevention. Ideally, the target range for 25-hydroxyvitamin D should be at least 75 nmol l(-1), which may need more than 700-1000 IU vitamin D in individuals with severe vitamin D deficiency or those overweight.
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