Warning issued for some women on vitamin D, calcium
Healthy post-menopausal women should not take low-dose vitamin D and calcium supplements in hopes of protecting their bones, a panel of government advisers said in a new recommendation.
The supplements don't work for that purpose, at least when taken at the relatively low daily doses that have been most thoroughly studied, said the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. The advice, published on Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, covers daily doses up to 400 international units (IU) of vitamin D and up to 1,000 milligrams of calcium.
The recommendation is an official vote of no confidence in a very popular supplement combination. Though it closely tracks a draft released months ago and is based on widely reported studies, it may be a shock to many consumers. More than half of women older than 60 take the supplements, according to the task force.
The recommendation is likely to spawn confusion because it doesn't cover younger women, men or higher doses. The task force says it has inadequate evidence on all those issues. It also continues to study whether vitamin D has any role in preventing cancer. And it is standing by a previous recommendation that people who are older than 65 and at high risk for falls — a big group of people — should take vitamin D supplements.
“We know that vitamin D and calcium are essential to bone health,” said task force member Jessica Herzstein, a public-health specialist who is global medical director at Air Products in Allentown. But studies including the Women's Health Initiative show that low-dose supplements don't prevent fractures in healthy older women, the task force said. Research suggests that about one in 273 women taking the supplements will develop kidney stones. It's a small risk but worth considering, Herzstein said.
The best advice is for women to talk to their doctors about their risks for fragile bones and fractures, and all the ways they can prevent them, including diets high in calcium and vitamin D, exercise and prudent sun exposure, which helps the body produce vitamin D, Herzstein said.
But some women who talk with their doctors will find waning enthusiasm for the supplements, said Clifford Rosen, a senior scientist at Maine Medical Center Research Institute and former president of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research. There's a growing consensus that “most people are doing very well in the United States in terms of their vitamin and mineral intake and they don't need supplements,” he said. There's also growing concern about risks.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Suspect in killings of wealthy D.C. family arrested
- Dogs split from the wolf pack earlier than thought, DNA analysis suggests
- Suspect in killings of wealthy DC family arrested
- Obama trade bill advances in Senate
- Senators push for full funding for Amtrak
- Woman says flight attendants blocked frantic bid to call suicidal husband after receiving text
- Ex-Va. lawmaker plans to wed teen in sex scandal
- 6 Baltimore officers indicted in Gray’s death
- 5 big banks plead guilty to currency manipulation
- Romney throws hat into different ring to fight Holyfield
- Skateboard used in attack, officer says of shooting in Olympia, Washington