Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Osteoporosis Health Center

Font Size

Calcium Supplements Thwart Bone Loss

For Best Benefits, Take Calcium and Vitamin D Supplements Correctly, Researchers Say
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Aug. 23, 2007 -- Confused about whether calcium supplements and vitamin D supplements protect your bones?

A report in this week's edition of The Lancet sheds new light on that question.

People aged 50 and older who take calcium supplements are 12% less likely to fracture a bone than their peers who don't take those pills.

That protection rate doubles when calcium supplements are taken correctly, report the researchers, who included Benjamin Tang, MD, of the Centre for Complementary Medicine Research at Australia's University of Western Sydney.

"For best therapeutic effect, we recommend minimum doses of 1200 milligrams [mg] of calcium, and 800 IU [international units] of vitamin D (for combined calcium plus vitamin D supplementation)," Tang's team writes.

Tang and colleagues reviewed 29 studies on the use of calcium supplements and vitamin D supplements in people aged 50 and older. Together, the studies included nearly 64,000 people who were almost 68 years old, on average.

Participants were followed for 3.5 years, on average.

During that time, people who took calcium supplements were not only less likely to fracture their bones, they also slightly reduced their rate of bone loss from their hip and spine, compared with people who didn't take calcium supplements.

Taking vitamin D supplements along with calcium supplements didn't budge the numbers much. But that may be because few studies used higher doses of vitamin D, according to the report.

People aged 70 and older, those who didn't get much calcium from their diets, thin people, and those at high risk of bone fractures were particularly likely to benefit from taking calcium supplements.

Weight-bearing exercise, which helps strengthen bones, wasn't covered in the study.

Today on WebMD

Women working out and walking with weights
Reduce bone loss and build stronger muscles.
Chinese cabbage
Calcium-rich foods to add to your diet.
 
woman stretching
Get the facts on osteoporosis.
Porous bone
Causes, symptoms, risk factors, and treatment.
 
Lactose Intolerance
Article
Woman holding plate of brocolli
Article
 
Dairy products
Tool
Superfood for Bones
Slideshow
 
Screening Tests for Women
Slideshow
exercise endometrial cancer
Article
 
hand holding medicine
Article
Working Out With Osteoporosis
Video