Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract: There is a decline in serum 25 hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD), 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25(OH)2D), and calcium absorption with advancing age, which may lead to secondary hyperparathyroidism and bone loss. Studies show a relationship between serum 25OHD and bone density in older men and women, with an inverse correlation between bone density and parathyroid hormone (PTH). Vitamin D supplementation in this age group improves calcium absorption, suppresses PTH, and decreases bone loss. Vitamin D many also reduce the incidence of hip and other nonvertebral fractures, particularly in the frail elderly who are likely to have vitamin D deficiency. Patients with established vertebral osteoporosis have lower calcium absorption than age-matched control subjects, possibly due to reduced serum 1,25(OH)2D or to relative resistance to the action of vitamin D on the bowel. Malabsorption of calcium in women with vertebral crush fractures does not usually respond to treatment with physiological doses of vitamin D, but can be corrected by pharmacological doses of vitamin D or by low doses of calcitriol or alfacalcidol. In a recent randomized, controlled study in 46 elderly women with radiological evidence of vertebral osteoporosis, alfacalcidol 0.25 μg twice daily improved calcium absorption, decreased serum PTH, and reduced alkaline phosphatase, whereas vitamin D2 500–1000 IU daily had no effect over the 6-month study period. Studies of the effect of the vitamin D metabolites in the management of elderly women with established vertebral osteoporosis have yielded conflicting results, but suggest that alfacalcidol and calcitriol may decrease spinal bone loss and reduce the incidence of vertebral fractures. Although vitamin D supplementation decreases bone loss and fracture risk in the frail elderly, vitamin D metabolites may prove more useful in the treatment of elderly women with vertebral osteoporosis.
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