Calcium doesn’t help bone density

Calcium doesn’t help bone density

You can put down the calcium pills. They’re helping only a little … or not at all … with improving bone density and reducing the risk of fractures in older people.

These are the findings published recently in BMJ, an international, peer-reviewed medical journal. In a review of 59 randomized, controlled trials that studied the effect of dietary and supplemental calcium in more than 13,000 people over age 50, researchers found that bone density increased just 1 to 2 percent. Experts say that’s not enough to have a protective effect against broken bones. Bone density in the hip was even less pronounced: It increased 1 percent or less among those who consumed more calcium.

The other review assessed the results of 55 studies that looked at bone fractures and calcium consumption. It, too, found that calcium intake had little effect on broken bones. Some of the studies that focused on calcium supplements found a slightly reduced risk of broken vertebrae. But the study’s researchers also noted that calcium supplements do nothing to reduce the risk of hip and arm fractures. Among four of the studies that involved a total of 45,000 people, the review found no link between calcium supplements and a reduced risk of broken bones.

The analysis echoes the findings of some individual studies, including a large, seven-year study released in 2006. That study, involving more than 36,000 women over age 50, found no broad benefit from vitamin D and calcium supplements.

With no evidence of calcium being linked to a reduced risk of broken bones, researchers say a normal diet should be all that is necessary to get the calcium you need daily. You can toast to that news with a glass of calcium-rich milk.

Related Episodes