Older women shouldn't take vitamin D and calcium supplements to prevent broken bones, and there's not enough evidence to say whether it would help anyone else either, says a U.S. government-backed panel.
Based on two reviews of past research, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force waded into the debate over the two vitamins that are thought to strengthen bones to prevent against breaks.
"Calcium and vitamin D are important in general health and bone health. For this recommendation, we review data on whether supplements of vitamin D and calcium can prevent fractures in addition to dietary intake," said Dr. Jessica Herzstein, a member of the Task Force.
Based on the reviews, the panel found there were no benefits but some risk for post-menopausal women taking low-dose vitamin D and calcium supplements - below 400 international units and 1,000 milligrams, respectively.
Taking low-dose supplements didn't change the older women's risk for broken bones, but was tied to a small increase in the risk of kidney stones.
They also found that there is not enough evidence to suggest higher doses of the vitamins would be effective or safer in older women, or that taking any dose of the supplements would help men or younger women.
The researchers added that these recommendations do not apply to people who already have a diagnosis of osteoporosis, a history of fractures or are living in an assisted-living community.
It's important for people to talk with their doctors about calcium and vitamin D supplements.
The Task Force already recommends women older than 65 years old be screened for the bone-weakening disease osteoporosis, and younger women who have a higher risk of broken bones.
The panel also recommends senior citizens with a history of falls and vitamin D deficiency take supplements to help strengthen muscles and help with balance.
Vitamin D has also been researched as a preventive measure against dementia, heart disease and cancer, but with mixed results. The panel will soon be issuing recommendations about the vitamin for some of those diseases.
SOURCE: Annals of Internal Medicine, online February 25, 2013
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.