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FDA to allow osteoporosis prevention claims for calcium, vitamin D

Wednesday, January 10, 2007 by: Ben Kage
Tags: vitamin D, calcium, the FDA

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(NewsTarget) A recent proposal from the Food and Drug Administration will allow certain foods and dietary supplements containing calcium and vitamin D to make positive health claims, but one health author says the agency should not be able to censor supplement health claims in the first place.

The FDA has authorized claims that calcium-containing products can help prevent osteoporosis since 1993, but a petition from the Beverage Institute for Health and Wellness and the Coca-Cola Company has spurred the agency to allow food and beverage manufacturers to claim that foods and dietary supplements containing calcium and vitamin D can help reduce the risk of the osteoporosis. The proposal also allows for claims to apply to both genders and all races and ages, and eliminates "the need to identify the mechanism by which calcium reduces the risk of osteoporosis and the requirements that the claim state that there are limits to benefit of calcium intakes above 200% of the Daily value," the FDA announced.

However, according to consumer health advocate Mike Adams, calcium and vitamin D do not suddenly have health benefits just because the FDA says so.

"It's absurd that we look to the FDA to tell us what statements of fact about nature we are allowed to say," said Adams, who authored "The 7 Laws of Nutrition." "Vitamin D prevents osteoporosis, diabetes, breast cancer and prostate cancer regardless of whether the FDA allows supplement companies to make those claims. The Food and Drug Administration is not in charge of the natural laws of biochemistry, nor does it have the right to continue its campaign of intimidation and censorship against nutritional supplement manufacturers who are simply trying to educate consumers about the healing value of certain nutrients."

Additionally, some scientists have noted that calcium and vitamin D supplementation may not be as crucial to children as it is to adults. One review article suggested that children who are healthy, eat healthily and have a health lifestyle seldom need calcium and vitamin D supplementation, although both may help certain children. A study published in a 2005 issue of the Lancet found that calcium and vitamin D supplements might not benefit all adults. In the study, supplementation of vitamin D, calcium or both failed to reduce the risk of secondary bone fracture from osteoporosis in elderly subjects who have already sustained one bone fracture incident.

Another review of 38 randomized or quasi-randomized studies by researchers from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland found that elderly people who are frail may find their risk for bone fractures reduced by vitamin D and calcium supplements, but the benefits may be marginal and only appear to have an affect on those who are institutionalized. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, taking too much calcium or vitamin D can cause hypercalcemia -- or too much calcium in the blood -- which can cause no symptoms or cause loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, constipation, dry mouth, thirst and frequent urination. Severe symptoms include confusion, delirium, coma and, if left untreated, death.

Osteoporosis is a reduction in bone mineral density, resulting from insufficient calcium, which can increase the risk of breaks and fractures. Experts recommend trying to attain peak bone mass during childhood and young adulthood to help fight osteoporosis, and consider prevention the best recourse against the disease. Children should get lots of exercise, especially weight-bearing exercises like jumping, and get lots of sunshine and well-balanced foods, including unlimited fruits and vegetables and limited meat and dairy.

Then, experts say, people should try to maintain their health later in life by following a healthy diet and exercise regimen. Such a routine can help keep body pH normal, which is likely to prevent bones from losing essential minerals like calcium. The experts also recommend high protein intake -- most Americans get plenty -- and a high intake of potassium or similar salts. The Framingham Osteoporosis Study suggests that vitamin B12 supplementation is also helpful, especially to vegetarians and vegans, as plant foods do not contain vitamin B12.


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