Intended for healthcare professionals


Calcium and vitamin D in preventing fractures: Data are not sufficient to show inefficacy

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: (Published 07 July 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:108
  1. Alex Vasquez, researcher (avasquez{at},
  2. John Cannell, president
  1. Biotics Research Corporation, 6801 Biotics Research Drive, Rosenberg, TX 77471, USA
  2. Vitamin D Council, 9100 San Gregorio Road, Atascadero, CA 93422, USA

    EDITOR—The study by Porthouse et al had two major design flaws.1 Firstly, the dose of vitamin D (800 IU per day) is subphysiological and therefore subtherapeutic. Secondly, their use of “self report” as a measure of compliance is unreliable.

    The dose of vitamin D at 800 IU daily was not determined scientifically but determined arbitrarily before sufficient scientific methodology was available.24 Heaney et al determined the physiological requirement of vitamin D by showing that healthy men use 4000 IU cholecalciferol daily,2 an amount that is safely attainable with supplementation3 and often exceeded with exposure of the total body to equatorial sun.4

    We provided six guidelines for interventional studies with vitamin D.5 Dosages of vitamin D must reflect physiological requirements and natural endogenous production and should therefore be in the range of 3000-10 000 IU daily. Vitamin D supplementation must be continued for at least five to nine months. The form of vitamin D should be D3 rather than D2. Supplements should be assayed for potency. Effectiveness of supplementation must include measurement of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D. Serum 25(OH)D concentrations must enter the optimal range, which is 40-65 ng/ml (100-160 nmol/l).

    Since the study by Porthouse et al met only the second and third of these six criteria, their data cannot be viewed as reliable for documenting the inefficacy of vitamin D supplementation.


    • Competing interests AV is a researcher at Biotics Research Corporation, a drug manufacturing facility in the United States that has approval from the Food and Drug Administration.


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