Vitamin D supplementation has recently been evaluated in Switzerland in a small 1 year randomized clinical trial by Bischoff-Ferrari and colleagues. This study compared the effects of two “high” doses of vitamin D (60,000 IU of vitamin D3 per month or 24,000 IU vitamin D3 plus 300 mg of calcifediol per month) to a standard dose of 24000 IU per month (equivalent to 800 IU per day). The study did not include a control group receiving zero vitamin D supplementation. The study was completed in 200 men and women over the age of 70 yrs. The people enrolled in the study had at least 1 fall before entering the study.

High dose vitamin D did not result in improvements in strength in the lower limbs. In fact there were actually more falls in the high dose vitamin D groups in comparison to the standard dose 24,000 IU Vitamin D monthly. Therefore, increasing vitamin D intake above standard recommended intake levels provided no benefit with respect to muscle strength, and was actually associated with an increased risk of falling.

Although vitamin D is present in a few food groups, including fatty fish, eggs and D fortified milk and cereal, it is difficult to meet daily requirements with diet alone. Vitamin D in doses of 800-1000 IU daily will prevent vitamin D deficiency in most people.

Osteoporosis Canada recommends routine vitamin D supplementation for all Canadian adults year round. Healthy adults between19-50 years of age, including pregnant or breast feeding women, require 400 – 1,000 IU daily. Those over 50 or those younger adults at high risk (with osteoporosis, multiple fractures, or conditions affecting vitamin D absorption) should receive 800 – 2,000 IU daily.

Osteoporosis Canada advises Canadians to discuss their vitamin D requirements with their physician.

Osteoporosis Canada’s rapid response team, made up of members of the Scientific Advisory Council, creates position statements as news breaks regarding osteoporosis. The position statements are used to inform both the healthcare professional and the patient. The Scientific Advisory Council (SAC) is made up of experts in Osteoporosis and bone metabolism and is a volunteer membership.