Calcium and Vitamin D supplements are gaining popularity across the globe, particularly among the elderly. They are seen as an important part of ensuring bone health. Marvin M Lipman, M.D, Chief Medical Advisor, Consumer Reports, says “Many consumers, especially older people who are concerned about bone loss, buy and take calcium and vitamin D pills expecting them to strengthen their bones and prevent fractures.” The Nutrition Business Journal says Americans spent more than $1 billion on calcium supplements and $831 million on vitamin D supplements in 2015.

But are these supplements really necessary? Research studies show that taking daily calcium pills can increase bone density in people over 50 years old by 1 to 2 percent—not enough to prevent fractures. On the other hand, regular intake of calcium supplements could lead to heart disease, kidney stones, and gastrointestinal problems.

However, calcium supplements do reduce markers for osteoporosis, it has been found.

On the other hand, Vitamin D on its own does little to help build bones, studies show. On the flip side, Vitamin D intake could reduce the possibility of falls among the elderly, as deficiency has been linked with muscle weakness.
“The key is developing strong bones early in life—before age 30 when our bones naturally start to thin,” Lipman says. “After 30, it’s a matter of preserving bone strength by consuming enough calcium in your daily diet so that the body doesn’t take what it needs from the bones.” The best source of calcium is through diet – so include foods like milk, cheese and yogurt. Similarly, Vitamin D can be got from natural sources like mushrooms, eggs, soya and salmon, and the best way is to soak up at least ten minutes of sunlight. The body will do the rest.


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