Calcium and Vitamin D Supplements Might Not Reduce Risk of Fractures

Older adults taking calcium and vitamin D are no less apt to break their bones than are their peers who do not take the supplement, suggests a research review.

Researchers looked at data from 33 priors trials that involved over 51,000 people who were 50 years of age or older who live within a community and not at nursing homes or other types of institutional settings.

The researchers found there was no fracture risk difference amongst people who received no treatment, a dummy pill or placebo, or the calcium and vitamin D alone or as a combination.

The time has come to stop taking vitamin D and calcium supplements for older adults in a community dwelling, said the lead author of the study Dr. Jia-Guo Zhao, who is a researcher in orthopedic surgery at China’s Tianjin Hospital.

Vitamin D aids the body in using calcium to support good bone health and many adults who are older have been advised to take both of the supplements. The daily intake that is recommended of vitamin D for the majority of adults is between 600 IU or 800 IU.

Zhao said the guidelines need to be changed. Researcher think improving lifestyle, including sufficient exercise and sunshine while making adjustments to the diet might be more beneficial that using supplements

Some people are able to receive enough vitamin D through being outside, and adults who are older can lower the risk of falling and fractures through maintaining healthy weight and doing exercises that are designed to improve coordination and balance.

When people consume daily doses of vitamin D or 1,000 IU or more, they run a risk of side effects that can be serious, particularly when they are used in combination with taking calcium. Some research done previously linked high Vitamin D does to more of a risk of fractures, falls, certain cancers, kidney stones and premature death.

For this current study, the researchers examined data from only clinical trials that assigned some people randomly to take calcium or vitamin D, alone or as a combination, and some people to receive just a placebo or nothing at all.

Every trial looked at risks of suffering spinal fractures, hip fractures or other forms of broken bones.

A lack of a link between vitamin D, calcium and risk of fracture was looked at in both men and women without taking into consideration supplement doses or other previous history of braking bones, said researchers.

One Response

  1. marc says:

    Hold on a minute. The researchers were correct in their assessment of the results, but not correct in the blanket statement that calcium and vitamin D don’t help. Calcium is necessary for bone health, but very little is needed. Calcium supplements have never been shown to be effective in reducing fracture risk. Worldwide, the countries who have the highest risk of hip fractures also have by far the highest consumption of calcium. And as far as vitamin D is concerned, the amount of vitamin D used in the studies you are discussing is pitifully low. 800-1000 IU is almost nothing, considering that 20 minutes of full-body sun exposure at noon will produce up to 20,000 IU. The reason that the studies failed to show a positive result is that the quantities of vitamin D were horribly inadequate, and they were not produced by sun exposure.

    The studies on sun exposure have dramatically different results than those you discussed. For example, a Spanish study has demonstrated that women who were sun seekers had only 1/11 the risk of fracture compared to women who shunned the sun.

    So, embrace the sun without burning and get your calcium from vegetables. You really need only a modicum of calcium for good bone health, but you do need a load of vitamin D from the sun. Nature knows best!

    For more information: Sunlight Institute website:

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