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Calcium, vitamin D pills may not prevent fractures

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More than half of American women over 60 take vitamin D and calcium supplements, but the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says they’re probably wasting their money.

In a new recommendation from the federal government’s panel on preventive medicine, the task force says that most postmenopausal women should not take vitamin D and calcium to reduce their risk of bone fractures. The dosages assessed were 400 international units (IUs) of vitamin D3 and 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day.

The conclusions are based on an analysis of six randomized trials designed to study the health effects of vitamin D and calcium supplements. The largest of these trials was the Women’s Health Initiative study, which found no statistically significant difference in the risk of fractures among women taking the supplements and those who took placebos.

However, the analysis also made clear that this level of vitamin D and calcium supplementation increases the risk of kidney stones. The added risk is small, but considering the lack of demonstrated benefits, even a small risk can’t be justified, the panel said.


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