Calcium and vitamin D supplementation reduces fracture risk regardless of age, gender

Reprinted with permission of Life Extension

The January 16, 2010 issue of the British Medical Journal, which features a cover emblazoned with the words “Vitamin D deficiency,” reports the results of a review of seven clinical trials which found that supplementing daily with both calcium and vitamin D helps prevent bone fractures among men and women of all ages, with or without a history of fracture.

An international team of scientists led by researchers at Copenhagen University in Denmark pooled data from 68,517 participants aged 47 to 107 for their analysis of randomized trials involving vitamin D supplementation. Included in the analysis was Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) trial data published in 2006.

Age, female gender, and previous fracture were all associated with increased fracture risk. The combination vitamin D with calcium reduced overall fracture risk by 8 percent, and hip fracture by 16 percent compared to the risk experienced by those who did not receive the nutrients. Vitamin D supplementation alone in daily doses of 10 or 20 micrograms (equal to 400 and 800 international units) was not associated with significant benefits. Fracture history, age, gender or the use of hormone replacement therapy did not appear to affect vitamin D and calcium’s effects.

“What is important about this very large study is that it goes a long way toward resolving conflicting evidence about the role of vitamin D, either alone or in combination with calcium, in reducing fractures,” noted coauthor John Robbins, who is a professor of internal medicine at the University of California, Davis. “Our WHI research in Sacramento included more than 1,000 healthy, postmenopausal women and concluded that taking calcium and vitamin D together helped them preserve bone health and prevent fractures. This latest analysis, because it incorporates so many more people, really confirms our earlier conclusions.”

“This study supports a growing consensus that combined calcium and vitamin D is more effective than vitamin D alone in reducing a variety of fractures,” Dr Robbins added. “Interestingly, this combination of supplements benefits both women and men of all ages, which is not something we fully expected to find. We now need to investigate the best dosage, duration and optimal way for people to take it.”

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