International study strengthens case for daily calcium pill

August 26, 2007

A landmark study by University of Western Sydney researchers has found people over 50 who take calcium supplements suffer fewer fractures and enjoy a better quality of life.

The meta-analysis of over 63,000 people taking calcium or calcium and vitamin D supplements, conducted by the UWS Centre for Complementary Medicine Research (CompleMED), has been published this week in the prestigious international medical journal, The Lancet.

The study found long term daily calcium and Vitamin D supplements have the potential to reduce the risk of fracture in the elderly by almost a quarter.

Lead author, Dr Benjamin Tang, an Associate Researcher with CompleMED says the results confirm calcium supplements have an important role as a preventative medication.

"The research provides clear evidence that calcium supplements decrease fracture rates and loss of bone density in older people," he says.

"The efficacy of calcium supplements in reducing the risk of fractures later in life is comparable to more established preventative medicines such as aspirin and statins, which are widely taken to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events such as strokes and heart attacks," Dr Tang says.

If mineral loss from the bones is left unchecked over time it will make bones porous, brittle and prone to fracture - a condition called osteoporosis.

Two million Australians have osteoporosis and the disease costs the nation's economy $7.4 billion per year.

The report's authors analysed 29 studies from around the world which tracked the use and efficacy of calcium or calcium and Vitamin D supplements in 63,897 people aged 50 or over.

The study calculated a regular daily dose of 1200mg of calcium with 800 international units of Vitamin D provided the best therapeutic effect.

Dr Tang likens calcium supplements to superannuation payments where small regular contributions build to much larger pay off years down the track.

"The results showed the importance of starting supplements early in life, at around the age of 50, when bone mineral loss begins to accelerate."

"Persistence in particular pays off as people who reported taking their supplements at least 80 per cent of the time experienced a 24 per cent reduction in fractures. For those who were less rigorous with their routine the benefit was cut in half," he says.

The positive effect of taking calcium supplements increases with age, particularly for those 70 and older - an age group at high risk of fractures with complications which permanently reduce the quality of life or even cause death.

"Calcium supplements are relatively cheap to dispense, but the impact they have on your health and well being later in life is priceless," says Dr Tang.
-end-
The study was commissioned by the Australian Self Medication Industry and supported by a grant from the Australian Government*.

*This project was supported by a grant under the Primary Health Care Research, Evaluation and Development Strategy from the Australian Government.

The opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect those of the Commonwealth of Australia, which does not accept any liability for any loss, damage or injury incurred by the use of or reliance on the information contained herein.

Research Australia

Related Calcium Articles from Brightsurf:

A new strategy for the greener use of calcium carbide
Computational chemists from St Petersburg University and the Zelinsky Institute of Organic Chemistry of the Russian Academy of Sciences have developed a new strategy for using calcium acetylide in the synthesis of organic compounds.

New link between calcium and cardiolipin in heart defects
To function properly, the heart needs energy from cells' powerhouses, the mitochondria.

'Give me the calcium!' Tulane virus takes over cellular calcium signaling to replicate
Researchers uncover the first piece of functional evidence suggesting that Tulane virus and human norovirus use viroporins to control cellular calcium signaling.

Carbon dots make calcium easier to track
Prof. DONG Wenfei's research group from the Suzhou Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Technology (SIBET) has developed a new type of fluorescent carbon dot that can effectively detect calcium levels in cells.

Calcium batteries: New electrolytes, enhanced properties
Calcium-based batteries promise to reach a high energy density at low manufacturing costs.

Chelated calcium benefits poinsettias
Cutting quality has an impact on postharvest durability during shipping and propagation of poinsettias.

New study uncovers the interaction of calcium channels
Korean researchers have identified the interactions of the combinants among calcium channel proteins that exist in nerve and heart cells.

Calcium-catalyzed reactions of element-H bonds
Calcium-catalyzed reactions of element-H bonds provide precise and efficient tools for hydrofunctionalization.

A bioengineered tattoo monitors blood calcium levels
Scientists have created a biomedical tattoo that becomes visible on the skin of mice in response to elevated levels of calcium in the blood.

The dinosaur menu, as revealed by calcium
By studying calcium in fossil remains in deposits in Morocco and Niger, researchers have been able to reconstruct the food chains of the past, thus explaining how so many predators could coexist in the dinosaurs' time.

Read More: Calcium News and Calcium Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.