NEWS2U Health & Wellness
Living Healthy in an Unhealthy World

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Calcium supplements protect against bone fractures

By David Liu

A new Australian study found that taking calcium supplements alone or in combination with vitamin D supplement reduces the risk of bone fractures in older people by as much as 12 percent. The results were reported in this week's edition of the Lancet.

The study is a meta-analysis of 17 selected studies involving 52,625 people all aged over 50 years, who participated in an average 3.5-year study.

Dr Benjamin Tang, co-author of the study from University of Western Sydney in Sydney, Australia, and colleagues found those who were sticking well to the dosing regimen were 24 percent less likely to have a bone fracture.

The protection against bone fractures was related to the dosage. Those who took 1200 mg of calcium a day reduced the risk by 20 percent while those who took less than 1200 mg experienced a 6 percent reduction in the risk.

Vitamin D was also linked to reduced risk of bone fractures with the protection depending upon the dosage as well. Those who took more than 800 International Units per day had a 16 percent reduction in the risk, compared to a 13 percent reduction for those who took less vitamin D.

The protection seemed to be greater in individuals who were elderly, lived in institutions and had a low body weight. The elderly and those who lived in institutions may better comply with the supplemental regimen, the researchers suggested.

Calcium supplements also improved bone density, according to another part of the study, which analyzed 23 trials of the effect of calcium supplementation with or without vitamin D taken alongside on bone density.

Supplementation of calcium with or without vitamin D taken together reduced the rate of bone loss at the hip by 0.54 percent and at the spine by 1.19 percent.

The researchers said vitamin D did not seem to have additional protection against bone fractures, but the dosage size caused a significant difference in the effect.

The researchers conclude: “Our meta-analysis has shown that calcium supplementation, alone or in combination with vitamin D, is effective in the preventive treatment of osteoporotic fracture…poor compliance is a major obstacle to obtaining the full benefit of calcium supplementation.”