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Taking Vitamin D And Calcium Supplements Might Not Help Bones At All, Study Says

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Should adults be taking vitamin D and calcium to help alleviate the onset of brittle bones brought about by aging?

For years, researchers have been trying to determine whether there is an association between supplements and bone fractures, but now, a new study has shed some more light into the debate.

Supplements To Prevent Bone Fractures May Be Useless

Published Tuesday, Dec. 26, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the study analyzed 33 randomized clinical trials that involved over 50,000 adults who are 50 years old and above. The research papers they analyzed compared calcium, vitamin D, or both with a placebo or no treatment. Researcher Jia-Guo Zhao focused on the data involving the general community, not those who reside in nursing homes or hospitals.

The findings? Vitamin D and calcium supplements did not prevent bone fractures in the adults tested. In fact, they had no discernible benefit regardless of how much dosage the patients took, their gender, their history of bone fractures, or the amount of calcium taken.

There's been some uncertainty as to the benefits of taking supplements to prevent bone fractures since several years ago. Practice guidelines recommend calcium and vitamin D supplements for older people to prevent fractures in those with osteoporosis, according to the study, but past studies have doubted the association of the two. The study in question serves as the latest evidence supporting the idea that the said supplements don't directly affect the outcome of bone fractures.

Take note that the study has limitations. First of all, it's a meta-study, hence, it doesn't introduce new data. It simply combines previous data collected by other researchers. This, however, is a good thing. Combining and analyzing multiple studies can yield connections between those studies that provide new information, such as a trend.

Even still, the study doesn't go deeper than it should have. For starters, it didn't look at the racial breakdown of the patients involved. Our sun is the main source of vitamin D, and a person's ability to acquire it can be influenced by the levels of melanin in their skin — and melanin is tied to skin color.

What's more, some trials included in the analysis wasn't able to test baseline vitamin D blood concentration of all the participants — hence, the results for some subgroups may have been entirely different if all individuals were tested.

Calcium And Vitamin D

Both calcium and vitamin D have been considered for a long time as elements crucial to bone health, but the way to get daily recommended doses for which are via natural methods. Eating milk, yogurt, cheese, and other dairy products gives one calcium. On the other hand, getting vitamin D involves staying under the sun, as mentioned. Many people simply don't get enough of both, so that's why some began taking supplements. That's exactly when debates surrounding the benefits of such supplements started surfacing.

So, are vitamin D and calcium supplements beneficial for human bone health? It doesn't seem the case. But should people stop taking them entirely? That's what future studies have to find out.

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