Vitamin D deficiencies have been repeatedly associated with various acute and chronic diseases, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD)- US National Library of Medicine –National Institutes of Health

Calcium, vitamin D, and fractures (oh my!)

By: Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Contributing Editor
When I saw the headlines about this recently published study on bone health saying “Vitamin D and calcium supplements may not lower fracture risk” I thought: Wait, that’s news? I think I remember seeing that headline a few years ago.
Indeed, in 2015, this very blog reported on similar studies of calcium supplements, noting that calcium supplements have risks and side effects, and are not likely indicated for most healthy community-dwelling adults over 50. These folks are not in a high-risk category for vitamin deficiencies, osteoporosis, and fractures, and we usually advise them to get their calcium from food. Dietary sources of calcium are everywhere, including milk and yogurt, but also include green leafy veggies like collard greens, legumes like black-eyed peas, tofu, almonds, orange juice… the list goes on (and you can check it out here).

What’s new with this most recent study?

This research found that taking vitamin D supplements did not protect against fractures in people over 50. The authors examined 33 research studies including over 50,000 people for their analysis. However, and it’s a big however, study investigators note several times that their research included only healthy people out in the community, and that their findings do not apply to elderly people living in nursing homes who may have a poorer diet, less sun exposure and mobility, and who are at particularly high risk for fractures. Indeed, the original recommendations for calcium supplementation were based on a study of elderly, nursing-home bound women with vitamin deficiencies and low bone density, for whom calcium and vitamin D supplements did significantly reduce fracture risk.

What is the takeaway?

Well, simply, not much has changed. My advice to my healthy patients is still to get calcium from foods, and the best diet for this is a Mediterranean-style diet rich in colorful plants, plenty of legumes, and fish……
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Source: Harvard Health Beat
Image: Harvard Health Beat