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Low Vitamin D Raises Women's Hip Fracture Risk
Date:8/18/2008

Too many Americans aren't getting enough of the sun-sourced nutrient, researchers say

MONDAY, Aug. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Low levels of vitamin D can boost older women's risk for hip fracture by more than 70 percent, University of Pittsburgh researchers report.

The finding adds weight to the recommendation that people maintain adequate intake of vitamin D, which is primarily made by the skin when it is exposed to sunlight.

The fracture-vitamin D link "has been observed for 15 years," noted Dr. Michael F. Holick, director of the Vitamin D Skin and Bone Research Laboratory at Boston University. "The good news is it's consistent, the higher your vitamin D status, the lower the risk of your developing a hip fracture."

The new report appears in the Aug. 19 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine .

Hip fractures can be devastating for older individuals. In fact, 50 percent of older people who suffer a hip fracture will end up in a nursing home and 20 percent will die within the first year due to complications such as a pulmonary embolism resulting from the fracture, Holick said.

For this study, a research team led by Jane A. Cauley from the University of Pittsburgh collected data on 800 women aged 50 to 79. Researchers followed the women for up to nine years to determine their risk for hip fractures.

They found that the risk of hip fracture rose 33 percent with every 25 nanomoles per liter drop in vitamin D levels. Women with the lowest levels of vitamin D had a 71 percent increase risk for hip fractures compared with women with the highest levels of vitamin D, the researchers report.

"We conclude that low serum vitamin D concentrations are associated with an increased risk for hip fracture in community-dwelling women. The mechanism of association is unclear," the authors wrote.

Holick notes that vitamin D is essential for the body's absorption of calcium, a key c
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