Wednesday Bubble: When it comes to bone health, D is for “don’t bother”

Posted by on Sep 25, 2013 in osteoporosis | 0 comments



Conventional wisdom suggests that combining calcium with vitamin D improves calcium absorption, and therefore may help prevent fractures resulting from bone loss and the body’s inability to replace bone. Notably, in younger people, the body works efficiently to replace bone after it breaks it down. However, after the age of 30, women begin lose bone mass and as I’ve written time and again in Flashfree, by the time we hit menopause, this process speeds ups, resulting in osteopenia and of course, osteoporosis.

And yet, researchers are now saying that they’ve confirmed that while calcium supplementation (1,200 mg daily) may reduce bone turnover and by default, improve overall bone health, adding vitamin D offers no additional advantage unless a woman has an existing vitamin D deficiency. In this recent study of 159 menopausal women, they compared vitamin D and calcium to calcium alone to vitamin D alone to placebo. They then measured a marker of bone turnover in the blood — PTH, or parathyroid hormone — over a period of six months.

Not surprisingly, they found that when they compared the women taking daily calcium to those who obtained calcium naturally in their diet, calcium was a clear winner, resulting in a significant reduction in bone turnover. However, when vitamin D was added to daily calcium, it did not seem to add any benefit (although it also did no harm).

No harm, no foul?

Not quite. The researchers say that too much calcium is too much of a good thing and that calcium balance is critical. The addition of vitamin D may lead to a condition called hypercalciuria — excessive calcium in the blood — which over time, can impair kidneys. The best practice is a cautious one; consult your practitioner to learn what your calcium levels are and proceed from there. If s/he recommends supplementing natural dietary intake of calcium with supplements, then you are good to go. However, when it comes to D and bone health? Maybe don’t!

In the interim, if you are interested in learning more about calcium do’s and don’ts, the archives hold a wealth of information. Check these posts out!

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