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Supplements to Prevent Fractures?

Supplementation with calcium and/or vitamin D did not reduce fracture risk in older adults.

Contrary to current opinion, a systematic review of 33 randomized trials in about 50,000 community-living adults over 50 years old found no benefit for supplementation of vitamin D and/or calcium. This study strongly supports the U.S. Preventive Services Taskforce in not recommending calcium or vitamin D supplementation in this population.

PositiveTip: Get your vitamin D from adequate sun exposure, exercise daily, and include plenty of calcium rich foods in your diet.

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CVD Risk and Calcium Intake

Dietary and supplemental calcium intake below 2500 mg daily OK.

Inconsistent evidence has suggested there might be an association between calcium supplementation and increased risk for cardiovascular disease. A multi-center, meta-analysis of 4 randomized trials and 27 observational studies has found moderate-quality evidence suggesting that calcium intake (with or without Vitamin D) from food or supplements does not raise the risk of CVD in healthy adults.

PositiveTip: Dietary sources of calcium are preferred over supplemental calcium, and every person needs an adequate intake. Are you getting enough?

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Calcium Underfire

Researchers puzzled by recommendations for universal calcium supplementation.

Increased calcium intake from either supplements or dietary sources may not be as effective in supporting bone mineral density (BMD) or reducing fracture risk as once thought.  Researchers found increased calcium intake resulted in only small increases in BMD in 14,000 people over 50, but the changes were so small they would not be clinically significant. Another study revealed increased calcium intake in over 45,000 individuals did not reduce fracture risk.

PositiveTip: Eating a wholesome, natural diet combined with physical activity may be the best way to support bone health and prevent fractures.

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High Supplemental Calcium Dangerous?

Ca supplements increased risk of CVD in men.

Many older adults take calcium supplements to improve bone health. The AARP Diet and Health Study with 390,000 older adults assessed calcium supplements, calcium-containing antacids and multivitamins at baseline. About 50% of men and 70% of women supplemented calcium, and the average dietary intake of calcium for both was 700 mg. During 12 years of follow-up men who supplemented at least 1000 mg of calcium daily experienced 20% higher risk for cardiovascular disease than those who did not supplement. This increase was not found in women.

PositiveTip: Men and women should eat a healthful diet of calcium-containing vegetables, legumes and low-fat dairy products( if they choose) rather than supplements.

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Calcium Supplement Caution

Use of calcium supplements may increase risk of heart attack.

German researchers have found that calcium supplements are associated with almost double the risk for a heart attack, compared to those who did not supplement. Nearly 24,000 residents aged 35 to 64 were followed for 11 years. Those who took calcium supplements had a 1.88 increase in risk for heart attack. Calcium from dietary sources did not increase risk.

PositiveTip: Calcium supplements should only be taken with caution. It is best to get this nutrient from a balanced diet.

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High Calcium Intake May Actually Increase Risk of Hip Fractures

High Calcium Intake May Actually Increase Risk of Hip Fractures

A newly published Swedish study of over 61,000 women who were followed for more than 19 years provides the strongest evidence to date that high calcium intake is not beneficial for preventing bone fractures. The exceptions are women with very low amounts of calcium and vitamin D in their diet. Women in the top 25 percent of calcium intake showed no reduced risk of fractures or osteoporosis. Instead, they actually showed a 19 percent increase in hip fractures. The lowest fracture risk was found in women with total calcium intake of about 800 mg per day. 

Cardiac Risks from Calcium Supplements

Millions of women take calcium supplements. The U.S Government recommends 1200 mg intake of calcium per day for men and women over the age of 50.

Recent research, just published in the British Medical Journal, show that calcium supplements actually have no beneficial effect on bone density and are actually harmful because they increase the risk of heart attacks.

Scientists at the University of Auckland in New Zealand analyzed 11 calcium supplement studies (without Vitamin D), with more than 12,000 participants. The risk of heart attacks among those taking supplements was 31% higher than those not taking them.