Older adults who took calcium and vitamin D had fewer bone fractures and stronger bones, in two new studies.
Researchers identified 29 clinical trials worldwide that examined bone fracture and/or bone mineral density (BMD) in men and women aged 50 or older, who took calcium alone or with vitamin D. In 17 bone-fracture studies, involving 52,625 participants, overall compared to placebo, those who took calcium alone or with vitamin D had 12% fewer bone fractures of all types. Those who took calcium alone or with vitamin D most consistently—80% of the time—had 24% fewer fractures of all types compared to placebo.
In 23 studies that reported BMD, involving 41,419 participants, overall compared to placebo, those who took calcium alone or with vitamin D had 0.54% less bone loss at the hip and 1.19% less bone loss in the spine. Lead researcher Dr. Benjamin Tang stated, “The results showed the importance of starting supplements early in life, at around the age of 50, when bone mineral loss begins to accelerate.” The researchers recommend minimum doses of 1,200 mg of calcium and 800 IU of vitamin D per day for the best therapeutic effect. Doctors also believe that dividing the doses in half and taking twice per day enhances the effect.
In another calcium and vitamin D study, researchers analyzed the amount of dairy, fish, nutritional supplements and sunlight for 36,209 postmenopausal Caucasian women, from childhood through current day, and measured BMD at the forearm, finger or heel. Compared to those with lower levels, those with higher lifetime levels of calcium were 20% less likely to have osteoporosis and those taking higher current levels of calcium were 25% less likely to have osteoporosis. Those currently taking higher levels of vitamin D were 27% less likely to have osteoporosis than those with lower levels.