This study will turn one myth of the wellness industry on its head. Increasing calcium intake through dietary sources or supplements, say researchers, is unlikely to improve bone health or prevent fractures in older people.
Collectively, results of two studies suggest that increasing calcium intake, through supplements or dietary sources, should not be recommended for fracture prevention.
Guidelines advise older men and women to take at least 1000-1200 mg/day of calcium to improve bone density and prevent fractures, and many people take calcium supplements to meet these recommendations. Recent concerns about the safety of calcium supplements have led experts to recommend increasing calcium intake through food rather than by taking supplements, but the effect on bone health is unknown.
It is time to revisit recommendations to increase calcium intake beyond a normal balanced diet, argues Karl Michaelsson from Uppsala University in Sweden, in an accompanying editorial.
He points out that ever increasing intakes of calcium and vitamin D recommended by some guidelines defines virtually the whole population aged over 50 at risk. Yet most will not benefit from increasing their intakes, he warns, and will be exposed instead to a higher risk of adverse events.
The weight of evidence against such mass medication of older people is now compelling, and it is surely time to reconsider these controversial recommendations, he concludes.
The study is published in The BMJ.