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Healthy Older Women Advised Against Taking Calcium
Date:2/26/2013

entation of vitamin D and calcium levels for bone health and the adverse effects of supplementation. The report, published online Feb. 26 in the Annals of Internal Medicine, makes these points about preventing fractures:

  • Don't take low doses of daily supplements: Less than 400 IU of vitamin D and less than 1,000 mg of calcium after menopause have no benefit.
  • For higher doses: The task force doesn't have sufficient evidence to make a recommendation on daily supplements.
  • For men and women younger than 50: The task force also doesn't have enough evidence to make a recommendation on vitamin D and calcium supplements.

The report notes a downside to low-dose supplementation: Taking 400 IU or less of vitamin D and 1,000 mg or less of calcium increases the risk of kidney stones, which can be painful and may require hospitalization.

Criticism about the USPSTF guidelines comes from a range of perspectives.

The Council for Responsible Nutrition, a trade association representing the dietary supplement industry, criticized the USPSTF for relying too heavily on data from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI), a study that showed little to no effect on fracture rates in the more than 35,000 postmenopausal women in the trial. They also said that the task force ignored a WHI study out this year that showed a notable reduction in fracture among women who adhered to prescribed doses of calcium and vitamin D.

Some experts prefer a report released by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), a nonprofit organization that gives expert, evidence-based advice on public health issues to policy makers and health professionals.

"That took a very in-depth and I would say a very broad look at the vitamin D and calcium question," said Dr. Sundeep Khosla, a past president of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research and an endocrinologist and research scientist at the Mayo Clinic. The IOM recommended that most adults get 1,0
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