Osteoporosis is a serious public health crisis, especially for Caucasian and Asian women, who face a heightened risk. According to the CDC, 16% of women and 4% of men over 50 have osteoporosis of the spine. The disease causes 8.9 million fractures annually, making it a leading cause of broken bones, particularly among seniors.
For decades, doctors have recommended calcium supplements, along with vitamin D—which aids in the metabolism of calcium—to prevent osteoporosis. In spite of these recommendations, osteoporosis rates continue to rise. According to two new studies, this is because calcium and vitamin D supplements simply don't work.
Calcium and Vitamin D may be ineffective in fight against osteoporosis
To explore the effectiveness of calcium and vitamin D in the fight against osteoporosis, researchers looked at a number of studies of supplementation among men and women over 50. To minimize bias, researchers controlled for the quality and design of each study.
The first review found that increased calcium, either in the form of supplements or dietary intake, produced inconsequential increases of 1%-2% in bone mineral density. The research team says this isn't enough to significantly reduce the risk of osteoporosis. The second study found no increase in bone mineral density associated with dietary or supplementation changes.
Is it time to stop taking supplements?
Every patient is different, with a complex and interacting set of risk factors. This means that only your doctor can tell you whether it's appropriate to supplement your diet. For most people, though, supplementation is little more than a waste of time and money. And, the study's authors say, increased use of supplements increases the risk of adverse reactions such as overdose and dangerous drug interactions. Without a doctor's explicit request that you do otherwise, there is no reason to take these supplements.
Solutions for reducing your osteoporosis risk
This research marks a significant change in how we think about osteoporosis, and follow-up studies may find additional options for combating bone density loss. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends the following:
- Get plenty of aerobic and strength-based exercise to strengthen your bones.
- Eat a varied diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
- Don't smoke, or quit now if you do.
- Limit your alcohol consumption to no more than 2-3 drinks each day.
Most research also suggests that making generally healthy choices, such as minimizing stress, avoiding overuse of prescription or illicit drugs, and maintaining a healthy sleep schedule can also help.
CATEGORIES: Diet, Disease Prevention, Supplements, Calcium, Vitamins And Minerals, Fight Osteoporosis