JOURNAL ARTICLE
RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIAL

High-dose oral vitamin D3 supplementation in the elderly

C J Bacon, G D Gamble, A M Horne, M A Scott, I R Reid
Osteoporosis International 2009, 20 (8): 1407-15
19101755

SUMMARY: Daily dosing with vitamin D often fails to achieve optimal outcomes, and it is uncertain what the target level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D should be. This study found that large loading doses of vitamin D(3) rapidly and safely normalize 25OHD levels, and that monthly dosing is similarly effective after 3-5 months. With baseline 25OHD > 50 nmol/L, vitamin D supplementation does not reduce PTH levels.

INTRODUCTION: There is concern that vitamin D supplementation doses are frequently inadequate, and that compliance with daily medication is likely to be suboptimal.

METHODS: This randomized double-blind trial compares responses to three high-dose vitamin D(3) regimens and estimates optimal 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD) levels, from changes in parathyroid hormone (PTH), and procollagen type I amino-terminal propeptide (P1NP) in relation to baseline 25OHD. Sixty-three elderly participants were randomized to three regimens of vitamin D supplementation: a 500,000-IU loading dose; the loading dose plus 50,000 IU/month; or 50,000 IU/month.

RESULTS: The Loading and Loading + Monthly groups showed increases in 25OHD of 58 +/- 28 nmol/L from baseline to 1 month. Thereafter, levels gradually declined to plateaus of 69 +/- 5 nmol/L and 91 +/- 4 nmol/l, respectively. In the Monthly group, 25OHD reached a plateau of ~80 +/- 20 nmol/L at 3-5 months. There were no changes in serum calcium concentrations. PTH and P1NP were only suppressed by vitamin D treatment in those with baseline 25OHD levels <50 and <30 nmol/L, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: Large loading doses of vitamin D(3) rapidly and safely normalize 25OHD levels in the frail elderly. Monthly dosing is similarly effective and safe, but takes 3-5 months for plateau 25OHD levels to be reached.

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