Update on Vitamin D and Calcium Supplements for Reducing Fracture Risk

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Annual incidence of osteoporotic fractures is projected to grow to more than 3 million by 2025.
Annual incidence of osteoporotic fractures is projected to grow to more than 3 million by 2025.

Vitamin D and calcium may not reduce the risk of fractures in adults when taken as a preventative measure, according to a recent literature review performed by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF)

Researchers completed a comprehensive literature review regarding the effects of vitamin D and calcium supplementation, alone or combined, on the incident rate of fractures in men, premenopausal women, and post-menopausal women.

Researchers concluded that the current evidence is not sufficient to “assess or support the balance of benefits and harms of vitamin D supplementation, alone or combined, for the primary prevention of fractures in men and premenopausal women.” In addition, it was found that the evidence is also “insufficient to assess the balance of the benefits and harms of daily supplementation with greater than 400 IU of vitamin D and more than 1000 mg of calcium for the primary prevention of fractures in community-dwelling, postmenopausal women.”  

Finally, it is not recommended to “[daily] supplement[ion] with 400 IU or less of vitamin D and 1,000 mg or less of calcium for the primary prevention of fractures in community-dwelling postmenopausal women.”

The literature found adequate evidence demonstrating that supplementation with vitamin D and calcium increased the risk of kidney stone incidents when compared with placebo, and is therefore discouraged. 

Clinicians are recommended to encourage the use of vitamin D and calcium to maintain overall health in men and women, but found insufficient evidence to support its use in preventing fractures.

Reference

U.S. Preventative Services Task Force. Draft recommendation statement. Vitamin D, calcium, or combined supplementation for the primary prevention of fractures in adults: preventative medication. Published September 2017. Accessed October 6, 2017.

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