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Vitamin D Helps Bone Health Only With Calcium: Report
Date:12/20/2011

By Maureen Salamon
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Dec. 19 (HealthDay News) -- A new analysis on the effects of vitamin D on bone health shows that it cuts fracture risk in older adults, but only when taken with calcium supplements.

The review of nearly 50 studies on vitamin D -- present in a small number of foods and produced naturally in the skin with sun exposure -- by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) also indicates that it's too soon to tell if vitamin D supplements can help prevent cancer.

Report author Mei Chung, assistant director of the Evidence-based Practice Center at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, said she wasn't able to advise specific recommended doses based on the review, which concluded that a daily vitamin D regimen of between 300 and 1,100 international units (IUs) combined with 500 to 1,200 milligrams (mg) of calcium reduces fracture risk in those over 65.

"I think vitamin D likely has more benefits than we currently know and also [presents] little harm," said Dr. Robert Graham, a vitamin D researcher and internist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, who did not participate in the USPSTF report, published Dec. 20 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

"An acceptable level is always a moving target," Graham added. "It's a very controversial topic, although I honestly don't know why it's so controversial."

The USPSTF review comes about a year after a more extensive report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences, which said that most Americans and Canadians up to age 70 need no more than 600 IUs of vitamin D per day to maintain health, while those 71 and older may need as much as 800 IUs.

The IOM report took nearly 1,000 published studies into account, while the latest review incorporated 19 randomized controlled trials and 28 observational studies to determine the benefits and harms of vitamin D with or without
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