No, vitamin D and calcium supplements still don’t work

I think I’ll have to add calcium to my list of the top six supplements you shouldn’t be taking. Here’s why.

A year and a half ago, I reported on a very large study of 26,000 men and women that asked whether taking vitamin D supplements helps prevent bone fractures, as many people (including some doctors) believe.

Well, it doesn’t. This study found that people who took vitamin D had exactly the same risk of bone fractures as those who did not. It didn’t matter how much vitamin D they took, and it didn’t help if they also took supplemental calcium: either way, vitamin D had no effect.

(Aside: Everyone needs vitamin D, but most people get all they need from a normal diet. Alternatively, only 10 minutes of sunlight provides you with about 4 times your recommended daily requirement of vitamin D.)

Well, now there’s a huge new studio, just out in the Annals of Internal Medicine, which followed more than 36,000 older women, looking at the effects of a combination of vitamin D and calcium over a 22-year period. (Participants took vitamins for 7 years and then were followed for another 15. That’s a long time for a study, and kudos to the authors for their determination and effort.) The scientists who ran the study not only they looked at the effects of the supplements. about hip fractures, but also whether the supplements changed the risk of dying from cancer or heart disease.

The results? Well, the study found no reduction in the risk of hip fractures, which is not surprising since previous studies found the same. But because it was such a long study, following people for more than 20 years, they could ask something else: did vitamin D and calcium have any effect on mortality? Or to put it more directly, did the supplements prevent death?

well no But the report was a bit more nuanced than that. It turns out that deaths from cancer went down a little and deaths from heart disease went up a little.

First, though, let me explain the overall experiment. About half of the women in the study, just over 18,000, were assigned to take both vitamin D and calcium each day. They were given tablets with 1000 mg of calcium carbonate (400 mg of elemental calcium) and 400 IU of vitamin D.3 daily. The other half of the participants took placebo pills, but neither group knew whether their pills were placebos or not.

Over 22 years, 1,817 women taking the supplements died of cancer, compared to 1,943 women in the placebo group who died of cancer. That sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? The study authors report that this result, 126 fewer deaths, was statistically significant (barely), but there are good reasons to be skeptical of this claim of significance.

On the other hand, 2,621 women taking supplements died of heart disease, compared to 2,420 women in the placebo group. So there were 201 more deaths from heart disease among women taking vitamin D and calcium: not so good.

Combining the two causes of death, we see that in women taking supplements, there were 75 more deaths from cancer or heart disease. The study also reported figures for all causes of death, and they were still very slightly off month deaths in the supplement group. (The annual death rate increased from 2.14% to 2.15% for those taking supplements, a nonsignificant change.)

So overall, taking supplements didn’t seem to provide any benefit, and it certainly didn’t reduce the risk of death.

Why would vitamin D and calcium supplements increase the rate of heart disease or decrease the rate of cancer? Well, first I should stress that it’s entirely possible that these supplements have no effect, and the difference in death rates must be just random variation. There have been several studies that speculate how vitamin D might help prevent cancer, but the effect, if any, is very small. And as for heart disease, may be, as the authors of the new study speculate, long-term calcium supplements create calcifications in the coronary arteries, which would be a bad thing. For now, this is just a hypothesis.

So here’s my new list of the top 7 (not 6 anymore) supplements you shouldn’t be taking:

  1. Vitamin C
  2. Vitamin A and beta-carotene
  3. Vitamin E
  4. Vitamin B6
  5. multivitamins
  6. Vitamin D
  7. calcium

You can read more about the top five, some of which can be downright bad for you, in The Top Five Vitamins You Shouldn’t Be Taking.

what’s left Well, if you don’t have a deficiency, there’s no reason to take any supplemental vitamins. If you want to spend a little more money at the grocery store, buy some fresh fruit. You’ll be healthier for it.

As a final caveat, I must point out that aAlthough routine supplementation is useless and megadoses of vitamins can be harmful, if you think you have a vitamin deficiency, consult your doctor. Serious vitamin deficiencies can be the result of other health problems that your doctor can help treat, and treatments for specific conditions or diseases may include vitamins.

#vitamin #calcium #supplements #dont #work
Image Source : www.forbes.com

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