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The effect of a single early high-dose vitamin D supplement on fracture union in patients with hypovitaminosis D

a prospective randomised trial

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To evaluate the effect of a single early high-dose vitamin D supplement on fracture union in patients with hypovitaminosis D and a long bone fracture.

Patients and Methods

Between July 2011 and August 2013, 113 adults with a long bone fracture were enrolled in a prospective randomised double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Their serum vitamin D levels were measured and a total of 100 patients were found to be vitamin D deficient (< 20 ng/ml) or insufficient (< 30 ng/mL). These were then randomised to receive a single dose of vitamin D3 orally (100 000 IU) within two weeks of injury (treatment group, n = 50) or a placebo (control group, n = 50). We recorded patient demographics, fracture location and treatment, vitamin D level, time to fracture union and complications, including vitamin D toxicity.

Outcomes included union, nonunion or complication requiring an early, unplanned secondary procedure. Patients without an outcome at 15 months and no scheduled follow-up were considered lost to follow-up. The t-test and cross tabulations verified the adequacy of randomisation. An intention-to-treat analysis was carried out.


In all, 100 (89%) patients had hypovitaminosis D. Both treatment and control groups had similar demographics and injury characteristics. The initial median vitamin D levels were 16 ng/mL (interquartile range 5 to 28) in both groups (p = 0.885). A total of 14 patients were lost to follow-up (seven from each group), two had fixation failure (one in each group) and one control group patient developed an infection. Overall, the nonunion rate was 4% (two per group). No patient showed signs of clinical toxicity from their supplement.


Despite finding a high level of hypovitaminosis D, the rate of union was high and independent of supplementation with vitamin D3.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2017;99-B:1520–5.

Correspondence should be sent to M. A. Karunakar; email:

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