Vitamin D and Calcium Supplements Did Not Lower Fracture Risk In Community-Dwelling Adults Interview with:
“ZMA och D-vitamin. Intages med dubbelsidig C-brus. #placebomannen” by Robin Danehav is licensed under CC BY 2.0Dr Jia-Guo Zhao

Tianjin Hospital
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
Tianjin, China What is the background for this study?

Response: The increased social and economic burdens for osteoporotic-related fractures worldwide make its prevention a major public health goal.

Calcium and vitamin D supplements have long been considered a basic intervention for the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis. Survey analysis showed that 30–50% of older people take calcium or vitamin D supplements in some developed countries. Many previously published meta-analyses, from the high-ranking medical journals, concluded that calcium and vitamin D supplements reduce the incidence of fracture in older adults. And many guidelines regarding osteoporosis recommend calcium and vitamin D supplements for older people. The final aim for these supplements is to prevent the incidence of osteoporotic-related fracture in osteoporosis management. What are the main findings?

Response: We found that the beneficial results of calcium and vitamin D supplementation were likely to be caused by these populations living in institutions such as nursing homes and residential care facilities. Hence, we only investigated the association of calcium and vitamin D supplementation with fracture risk incidence in community-dwelling older adults. As a result, our conclusions are quite different from previous meta-analyses.

This study found that the use of supplements that included calcium, vitamin D, or both calcium and vitamin D was not associated with a lower risk of fractures among community-dwelling older adults. What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: Our report does not support the routine use of these supplements in community-dwelling older people. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Whether adjusting the diet structure and increasing sun sunlight exposure will be associated with the lower risk of fracture in older adults. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: I think that it is time to stop taking calcium and vitamin D supplements for the community-dwelling older adults.

Correspondingly, the guidelines also should be changed. Improving the life style (such as exercise, enough sunshine) and adjusting the diet structure may be more important than taking these supplements.

We have no conflicts of interest. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Zhao J-G, Zeng X-T, Wang J, Liu L. Association between calcium or vitamin D supplementation and fracture incidence in community-dwelling older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.19344

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

[wysija_form id=”1″]






1 Comment
  • Marc
    Posted at 22:34h, 06 January

    The researchers were correct in their assessment of the results, but not correct in the blanket statement that calcium and vitamin D don’t help. Calcium is necessary for bone health, but very little is needed. Calcium supplements have never been shown to be effective in reducing fracture risk. Worldwide, the countries who have the highest risk of hip fractures also have by far the highest consumption of calcium. And as far as vitamin D is concerned, the amount of vitamin D used in the studies you are discussing is pitifully low. 800-1000 IU is almost nothing, considering that 20 minutes of full-body sun exposure at noon will produce up to 20,000 IU. The reason that the studies failed to show a positive result is that the quantities of vitamin D were too low, and they were not from sun exposure. The studies on sun exposure have dramatically different results than those you discussed. For example, a Spanish study has demonstrated that women who were sun seekers had only 1/11 the risk of fracture compared to women who shunned the sun. So, embrace the sun without burning and get your calcium from vegetables. You really need only a modicum of calcium for good bone health, but you do need a load of vitamin D from the sun. Nature knows best! For more information: Sunlight Institute website: