Calcium / Vitamin D - Womens Health Initiative Study

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Study Finds Adherence to Supplement Regimen Improves Protection Against Fracture Risk
Reprinted by permission form The Life Extension Foundation

The results of a study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine found a small benefit in hip fracture risk reduction associated with calcium and vitamin D supplementation for 36,282 postmenopausal women enrolled in the Womens Health Initiative Trial.  Participants who received calcium and vitamin D experienced a 12 percent reduction in hip fracture risk compared to those who received a placebo.  However, even though 76 percent of the participants were still taking their supplements at the end of the seven year study, only 59 percent were taking the recommended dose.  When data from women whose adherence to their regimens was below 80 percent was excluded from the analysis, the reduction in hip fracture risk among those taking calcium and vitamin D more than doubled to a 29 percent lower risk than the placebo group.

The dosage of vitamin D in this study was 400 international units, an amount determined to be too low to maintain optimal serum levels of the vitamin in other research.  Additionally, the form of calcium used was calcium carbonate, which is commonly sold as an antacid and is not known to be one of better absorbed forms of the mineral.

The study also found that the supplements had a greater effect on older women than on those who were recently menopausal.  The authors of the study conclude that the findings provide evidence of a positive effect of calcium with vitamin D on bone health in older postmenopausal women.

Lead author Rebecca Jackson, who is an associate professor of internal medicine and physical medicine at Ohio State University Medical Center, commented, "the value of a study this large is that it does show, even if only on a small scale, that the intervention can be effective to lower the risk of osteoporosis within two to three years."  A physician isn't needed to prescribe these supplements.  All this means is, any supplementation of this kind is potentially beneficial, particularly in women over 60 years old.  That's a huge finding.

This all really points to the ability of women at highest risk for osteoporosis to make their own informed choices about supplements they take, Dr. Jackson added.

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