Medscape Report: Calcium & Vitamin D Decreases Fractures & Cancer

On April 2, 2014, Medscape sent out a Special Report that included a link to a video and article, Calcium + Vitamin D: Surprises From Long-term Follow-up. You probably need to sign up for a free account to view the article.

Here are some excerpts from the article which was about the Women’s Health Initiative study:

“In this large trial, more than 36,000 postmenopausal women aged 50-79 years were randomly assigned to treatment with a combination of calcium carbonate at a dose of 1000 mg elemental calcium plus vitamin D3 400 IU daily, or placebo.

“We now have 3 lines of evidence of benefit for calcium plus vitamin D supplementation: the reduction in hip fracture seen among adherent women, the reduction in vertebral fracture in the intention-to-treat analyses, and the improvement or better results for bone mineral density…

“In terms of all cancers, among the women who had low baseline intake of vitamin D, there was a statistically significant 9% reduction in total cancer with supplementation, and also a marginally significant 9% reduction in all-cause mortality.”

The report also said that there was no increase in cardiovascular disease for women taking supplements.

6 Responses to “Medscape Report: Calcium & Vitamin D Decreases Fractures & Cancer”

  1. Suzanne Sinclair Says:

    Can you suggest a good Calcium supplement for a woman 70 years, vegan?

  2. Jack Norris RD Says:


    Not really. Calcium citrate is ideal, but carbonate should also be good. I take the Trader Joe’s Ca/Zn/Mg supplement because it’s cheap, convenient, and has zinc. The RDA for calcium is 1200 mg per day (for your age group).

  3. Janine Blignaut Says:

    I have recently become a vegan (three months now) and last week had some blood work done. Everything came back normal but it appears that I have a severe Vitamin D deficiency. I doubt this is due to the veganism and is probably something I have had for some time. Being fair, allergic to most sunscreen and living in Africa I tend to avoid the sun as much as possible as I burn in no time. Do you think D2 will work as well as D3 for a severe deficiancy?

    P.S. Thanks for all the great work you do on this site… your work really is excellent.

  4. Jack Norris RD Says:

    Vitamin D2 is best taken on a daily basis, whereas treatment for vitamin D deficiency is usually done at 50,000 IU once a week. Rather than taking that much once a week, a better plan would be to take 5,000 to 10,000 IU per day for the same period. A maintenance dose of 1,000 to 2,000 IU a day should work after that.

  5. Janine Blignaut Says:

    Thanks very much for taking the time to respond and for your advice. Will try that.

  6. Alex Says:

    “increased cardiovascular risk with calcium supplements…with or without vitamin D marginally reduce total fractures but do not prevent hip fractures… Because of the unfavorable risk/benefit profile… use of calcium supplements to improve bone health should be abandoned.”

    (“Calcium supplements and cardiovascular risk: 5 years on”, Bolland, Grey, Reid, 2013)

    “no relationship between dietary calcium intake and rate of bone loss over 5 years in healthy older women with intakes varying from 1500 mg/day… Five recent large studies have failed to demonstrate fracture prevention… calcium supplements appear to have a negative risk-benefit effect, and so should not be used routinely in the prevention or treatment of osteoporosis… it seems sensible to maintain calcium intake in the region of 500-1000 mg/day in older individuals at risk of osteoporosis but there seems to be little need for calcium supplements except in [rare cases]”

    (“Calcium supplements: benefits and risks” Reid, Bristow, Bolland, 2015)

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