Calcium Supplements Thwart Bone Loss
For Best Benefits, Take Calcium and Vitamin D Supplements Correctly, Researchers Say
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
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
"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
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