Vitamin D, Calcium for Elderly Questioned
Studies Show No Bone Fracture Prevention From Vitamin D/Calcium in High-Risk Seniors
Supplements Have Their Place
Perhaps a more important criticism of the studies comes from John Hathcock,
PhD. Hathcock is vice president for scientific and international affairs at the
Council for Responsible Nutrition, a group that represents the supplement
Hathcock says that vitamin D and calcium by themselves are not a total
insurance policy against fractures in the elderly. Earlier studies, he points
out, show the reduction in fractures to be in the 30% to 40% range. The
Torgerson study did not have enough participants to detect a reduction in
fractures of less than 30%. And Hathcock says the Grant study, too, could
easily have missed such an effect.
"These studies do not exclude modest but important benefits for vitamin
D and calcium supplements," Hathcock tells WebMD. "This should not
suggest that anybody stop taking calcium and vitamin D supplements."
Grant says elderly people at risk of fracture should be taking medications
that build new bone mass. Such patients, he says, also need supplements.
"People who are taking very bone-active drugs, like bisphosphonates, are
encouraged to take vitamin D and calcium at the same time," he says.
"Those who now are just taking vitamin D and calcium should consider --
with their doctors -- whether they would benefit from bone-active