Healthy Women Should Not Take Calcium and Vitamin D Supplements to Prevent Fractures

by Diane, M.P.H, M.S.

The United States Preventive Services Task Force, a panel of independent experts in prevention and primary care appointed by the federal Department of Health and Human Services, issued a draft statement on June 12, 2012 recommending that healthy, postmenopausal women should not take low doses of calcium or vitamin D supplements to prevent fractures. The task force also stated that there is no evidence for healthy premenopausal women and men to take vitamin D with or without calcium to prevent fractures.

The panel based it’s recommendations on 137 studies which analyzed the effects of supplements, including randomized controlled trials, the gold standard for clinical evidence. The low doses studied were a typical daily level of 1,000 international units or less of vitamin D and 400 milligrams or less of calcium.

According to Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, an associate professor of medicine at the University of California in San Francisco and a member of the task force, “It is clear that lower doses of calcium and vitamin D do not prevent fractures, and there is a small but measurable risk of kidney stones.” Dr. Bibbins-Domingo advises that ‘with no evidence of benefit, why risk harm?’

Taking calcium and vitamin D is not enough to treat or prevent fractures or osteoporosis, according to Dr. Ethel Siris, Director of Columbia University’s osteoporosis center.

While the panel’s recommendation did not apply to people with osteoporosis, it concluded that for most people sufficient doses of vitamin D and calcium can be obtained from a healthy diet.



  1. Internet Citation: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Vitamin D and Calcium Supplementation to Prevent Cancer and Osteoporotic Fractures in Adults: Draft Recommendation Statement. AHRQ Publication No. 12-05163-EF-2. Current as of June 2012. (Source:

{ 1 comment }

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