New Study Casts Doubt on Calcium Pill Effectiveness

By: Sarah Batista
By: Sarah Batista

February 17, 2006

Many people take calcium and vitamin D supplements to strengthen their bones, but now researchers have found those supplements may not help bone health as much as we first thought.

Helen Stein has been taking calcium and vitamin D supplements for her bones. She's wary of a new study that says the combination might not be that effective after all.

"I'm very skeptical about the studies, in my age group among my peers everybody's taking calcium," said Stein.

The new study followed women aged 50 to 79 and found those taking the pills had no significant reduction in fractures. It also found there was a 17 percent increased risk of kidney stones. However, when researchers only looked at supplement users aged 60 and over they found 21 percent fewer hip fractures.

"What we saw in this study was that there was reduction in fractures, but it wasn't a significantly enough reduced risk of fractures," said Dr. Christopher Zitnay of Martha Jefferson Hospital.

But does this mean you should throw out your calcium and vitamin D pills? Experts like Dr.Zitnay say no. He strongly encourages both men and women to continue taking them because like other big studies in the past the data in this one still needs to be analyzed.

"I don't think there is a practitioner out there who will change what they do or what they recommend based upon this study, because of the flaws that were in this study," said Dr. Zitnay.

The study tested about 36,000 women over a seven-year period.

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