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January 26, 2010

Calcium and vitamin D supplementation reduces fracture risk regardless of age, gender

Calcium and vitamin D supplementation reduces fracture risk regardless of age, gender

The January 16, 2010 issue of the British Medical Journal, which features a cover emblazoned with the words "Vitamin D deficiency," reports the results of a review of seven clinical trials which found that supplementing daily with both calcium and vitamin D helps prevent bone fractures among men and women of all ages, with or without a history of fracture.

An international team of scientists led by researchers at Copenhagen University in Denmark pooled data from 68,517 participants aged 47 to 107 for their analysis of randomized trials involving vitamin D supplementation. Included in the analysis was Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) trial data published in 2006.

Age, female gender, and previous fracture were all associated with increased fracture risk. The combination vitamin D with calcium reduced overall fracture risk by 8 percent, and hip fracture by 16 percent compared to the risk experienced by those who did not receive the nutrients. Vitamin D supplementation alone in daily doses of 10 or 20 micrograms (equal to 400 and 800 international units) was not associated with significant benefits. Fracture history, age, gender or the use of hormone replacement therapy did not appear to affect vitamin D and calcium's effects.

“What is important about this very large study is that it goes a long way toward resolving conflicting evidence about the role of vitamin D, either alone or in combination with calcium, in reducing fractures,” noted coauthor John Robbins, who is a professor of internal medicine at the University of California, Davis. “Our WHI research in Sacramento included more than 1,000 healthy, postmenopausal women and concluded that taking calcium and vitamin D together helped them preserve bone health and prevent fractures. This latest analysis, because it incorporates so many more people, really confirms our earlier conclusions.”

“This study supports a growing consensus that combined calcium and vitamin D is more effective than vitamin D alone in reducing a variety of fractures,” Dr Robbins added. “Interestingly, this combination of supplements benefits both women and men of all ages, which is not something we fully expected to find. We now need to investigate the best dosage, duration and optimal way for people to take it.”

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Health Concern Life Extension Highlight

Osteoporosis

It is common knowledge that calcium and vitamin D work together to help prevent osteoporosis. But what about the many other essential minerals and nutrients needed for bone health? And which kind of calcium is really the best? Many people are surprised to learn it is probably not the kind they are taking on a regular basis.

Although calcium is readily available in dairy products and other dietary sources, many Americans are calcium deficient. There are a few possible explanations for calcium deficiencies:

  • Decreased vitamin D availability, possibly due to kidney or liver problems or insufficient exposure to sunshine (ultraviolet radiation)
  • Decreased gastrointestinal tract absorption due to stomach or intestinal problems
  • Increased loss of calcium from the kidneys
  • Increased loss of calcium from the colon and bowels
  • Low dietary calcium intake
  • Medications that inhibit calcium absorption

There are many forms of calcium on the market, including the common calcium carbonate, calcium gluconate, and calcium citrate. Of these, calcium citrate is the most easily absorbed and a good way to receive supplemental calcium.

It may also turn out that not only is supplementation vital to preventing and treating osteoporosis but that the timing of the supplementation is important. For example, in a study of healthy volunteers, two doses of 500 mg calcium and 400 IU vitamin D taken six hours apart produced a more prolonged decrease in serum parathyroid hormone levels (low levels of which indicate adequate calcium levels) than a single dose with the same total amounts of calcium and vitamin D.

End the government's silence about vitamin D, the natural way to help prevent flu. Take action!

With hundreds of thousands of seasonal flu-related complications, more than 35,000 deaths from the flu, and countless more from the H1N1 flu expected this season, ANH-USA asks the obvious question: What are the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and Health and Human Services (HHS) doing about it? The answer: Not much!

Our goal is to persuade the CDC, FDA, NIH, and HHS to step up to the plate and help educate the public about the critical role vitamin D plays in preventing and treating the seasonal and H1N1 flus along with many other health problems. In particular, we are asking the CDC, FDA, HHS, and NIH to issue statements outlining the immense benefits to be gained from supplementation during the flu season. In addition, HHS should update the government’s web site, to include well established facts about vitamin D.

Studies show that at least one-third of Americans are wholly deficient in Vitamin D. We all need to maintain adequate levels of vitamin D year-round, not just during flu season. The government has an important role to play in getting this message out, but says nothing at all.

In anticipation of the government’s programmed response – that even more research needs to be done – we are also asking the CDC, FDA, NIH, and HHS to support and fund additional research on the importance of maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D, including the link between vitamin D and flu prevention and treatment.

http://www.anh-usa.org/new_site/?p=1570

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