(NaturalNews) Increased vitamin D intake reduces the risk of bone fractures only when combined with increased calcium intake, according to a study conducted by researchers at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium and published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
It has long been known that vitamin D improves calcium absorption in the body, while calcium plays a critical role in the development and repair of bones. A previous meta- analysis of several prior studies, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2005, concluded that an increased vitamin D intake of 700 to 800 IU per day reduced the elderly's risk of hip fracture by 25 percent.
The current study, also a meta-analysis, examined studies on postmenopausal women and men over the age of 50 in which the participants had been given oral vitamin D supplements, either with or without calcium supplementation.
The researchers found that no significant reduction in the risk of hip fracture could be observed in populations supplemented with vitamin D alone. However, in groups that received both vitamin D and calcium supplementation, the risk of hip fracture went down by 18 percent. When the researchers also included the studies that had been examined in 2005, they found that the risk of hip fracture was 25 percent lower in those who received both calcium and vitamin D supplements, compared with those who received only vitamin D supplementation.
For greatest effectiveness, the researchers recommended a daily supplement of 700 to 800 IU of vitamin D and 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams of calcium. But they cautioned that this is not actually necessary for everybody.
"Universal supplementation in the elderly is unnecessary," they wrote. "Further research should identify those individuals who benefit most from vitamin D and calcium supplementation."
Consumer health advocate Mike Adams strongly disagrees with this statement. "Virtually all elderly people are chronically deficient in vitamin D," Adams said. "We not only need universal vitamin D supplementation in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., but we also need to greatly increase the recommended daily intake of vitamin D to 4000 IU instead of the typical 800 IU currently recommended by doctors."
Calcium is the best-selling supplement in the United States, with nearly one billion dollars in sales in 2004 alone, according to the Nutrition Business Journal.