Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Children's Health

Font Size

Calcium Supplements May Not Help Kids

Giving Children Calcium Supplements May Not Prevent Broken Bones

WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Sept. 15, 2006 -- Giving children calcium supplements in hopes of building stronger bones may not provide any real benefits, according to a new study.

Australian researchers say children who take calcium supplements will have only small improvements in bone densitybone density, which are unlikely to reduce the risk of fractures later.

"Our results provide only limited support for the use of calcium supplementation in healthy children as a public health intervention," write researcher Tania Winzenberg, of Menzies Research Institute in Hobart, Australia, and colleagues.

Instead, they say other approaches, such as increasing vitamin D intake and eating more fruits and vegetables, may be a better strategy for building strong bones.

Researchers say that osteoporosisosteoporosis is a major public health issue, particularly among women, and at least 90% of the maximum bone mass a person will ever attain is obtained by age 18. Therefore, finding ways to maximize bone mass during childhood through diet and physical activity to reduce the risk of broken bones and osteoporosis later in life is a hot topic.

Calcium Supplements for Kids Limited

In the study, published in the journal BMJ, researchers analyzed 19 studies on calcium supplementation and bone health involving more than 2,800 children.

There are several limitations to this study. Children who have medical problems or are taking drugs that can affect bone metabolism were not included in the studies that were reviewed. Also, very few of the children in the studies had low baseline intake of calcium to start with. The researchers also didn't look at actual occurrence of fractures.

The results showed that calcium supplementation had no effect on bone mineral density (a measure of bone strength) in areas at greater risk for fracture later in life, such as the hip and lumbar spine.

In addition, there was only a small improvement in bone density in the upper limbs (arms). Children taking the calcium supplements had only 1.7% better bone density in their upper limbs than children who didn't take the supplements.

"The small effect of calcium supplementation on bone mineral density in the upper limb is unlikely to reduce the risk of fracture, either in childhood or later life, to a degree of major public health importance," write the researchers. "It may be appropriate to explore alternative nutritional interventions, such as increasing vitamin D concentrations and intake of fruit and vegetables."

Today on WebMD

child with red rash on cheeks
What’s that rash?
plate of fruit and veggies
How healthy is your child’s diet?
smiling baby
Treating diarrhea, fever and more.
Middle school band practice
Understanding your child’s changing body.

worried kid
jennifer aniston
Measles virus
sick child

Child with adhd
rl with friends
Syringes and graph illustration