Do calcium and vitamin D supplements actually help?

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I have just read a really interesting article that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association earlier this week. The author, Zhao, and his colleagues did a meta-analysis of 33 studies that investigated the effect of calcium and vitamin D supplements on fracture risk. Over 55,000 people were included in these studies, so it is a very powerful piece of research.

What did they find? That taking these supplements appeared to have no effect on fracture risk! Whether taken individually, or in combination, calcium and vitamin D supplements appeared to have no effect  on reducing fracture risk.

The study might be criticised for only looking at patients in institutional residential care (ie nursing homes), so the outcome may have been different for a younger, more mobile population. Nevertheless I thought that the outcome was interesting.

Anyone who is taking these supplements under the direction of their doctor should, of course, continue to do so until told otherwise. But maybe the writing is on the wall for this aspect of fracture risk management? Other ideas for reducing fracture risk are discussed in this brief video.

Only two minutes to bone health!

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Great article in the International Journal of Epidemiology in June of this year. The authors describe how small amounts of exercise appear to make a significant difference to bone density. You can read a summary of the original article here. Remember it’s only two minutes per day!

Is taking medication to prevent osteoporosis a good idea?…

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I read this article in the BMJ this week by Jarvinen and colleagues, that made me reconsider the whole concept of measuring bone density and trying to improve it with medication. This video summarises it. Already there have been critical responses to Jarvinens article from, amongst others, the National Osteoporosis Society. Personally (this is Andrew writing), I thought it was a well written and reflective article, quite reasonably calling into question an established protocol.

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