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Post-Menopausal Women May Not Need Vitamin D + Calcium Supplements

Monday, June 18, 2012

 

Women may not need the kind of Vitamin D and calcium supplementation they've grown accustomed to, according to new expert advice.

It's become second nature to think about popping Vitamin D and calcium-fortified candies like, well, candy, but a new statement from a government-backed expert panel says that for healthy post-menopausal women, that may not be necessary. Or even a good idea.

The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) says that a review of the research on these supplements indicates that they do not prevent fractures at doses lower than 400 IU of vitamin D and 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium daily. And yet those dosages can slightly increase a number of side effects that include kidney stones.

The recommendations are currently available online in draft form.

Local experts react

“There is no point in exceeding the recommended quantities because there is no benefit and it may cause problems like kidney stones," said Geetha Gopalakrishnan, MD, CCD, an affiliated physician in the Women’s Medicine Collaborative Bone Density/Bone Health Program in Rhode Island. "People who are deficient should be replaced appropriately. Supplements can be considered for people who do not get enough calcium and vitamin D in their diets or in older nursing home patients."

Gopalakrishnan added that many physicians and medical organizations will be reviewing the USPSTF draft. "The final version of the recommendation will mostly likely have more clarity,” she said.

These supplements are widely recommended for women to prevent fractures related to osteoporosis, according to the USPSTF. The panel also added that the efficacy of higher doses can't yet be determined, as there is too little evidence. The same applies to the role that these supplements can play in preventing cancer.

A lot of press about Vitamin D

“There has been a lot of press about Vitamin D, its effects on health, and the recommended daily intake of Vitamin D." said Iris Tong, MD, a primary care physician with the Women's Medical Collaborative. "In short, there is scientific evidence that Vitamin D helps build strong bones and decreases falls in the elderly.  There is NOT good scientific evidence that demonstrates that Vitamin D decreases the rates of cancer, heart disease, or mortality.

Tong added that the current recommended daily dose of Vitamin D is 600 International Units for women ages 19-70 years and 800 International units for women over 70 years of age.

 

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