Vitamin D and Calcium Supplements Don't Prevent Fractures in Women or Men

First Posted: Feb 26, 2013 08:39 AM EST

Vitamin D and calcium supplements may not protect your bones. In fact, it may not even be worth taking them in higher doses. A federal panel has confirmed its recommendation against taking the vitamins to prevent fractures after finding that there was not enough scientific evidence to prove that it will help prevent broken bones in most postmenopausal women or in men.

The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force reviewed scientific research on both vitamin D and calcium. In the end, the panel recommended against daily vitamin D doses of 400 international units or lower, and calcium doses of 1,000 milligrams or lower for postmenopausal women. That said, women who suffer from vitamin D deficiency or osteoporosis should continue taking the supplements if recommended to do so by their doctor. In addition to recommending healthy women against taking the supplements, the panel also suggested that men do the same.

So why not take the supplements? The panel warned that the risk of kidney stones from taking the vitamins could outweigh the benefits of taking them. That said, both vitamin D and calcium are critical to bone health, even if they don't lead to less fractures.

Currently, about 20 percent of American adults take vitamin D supplements, while 17 percent take calcium supplements. Yet not all adults who take these supplements necessarily need them. People who are healthy and active don't always need to take extra vitamins.

That said, there are those who criticize the new report. According to, much of the evidence that went into the decision came from the Women's Health Initiative, which is the largest randomized trial on the supplement combination. Unfortunately, this trial contained several flaws, including the fact that significant numbers of women in the treatment group didn't take the daily dosage of calcium while many in the control group took supplements on their own.

There's also the fact that the panel seems to be going back on what it said previously. In May 2012, the panel recommended these supplements for seniors who were at increased risk of falling.

Even so, the report still remains. It was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine this Monday.

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