Government agency issues draft recommendation doubting calcium, vitamin D benefits


ROCKVILLE, Md. — U.S. Preventive Services Task Force on Tuesday issued a draft recommendation around the ineffectiveness of vitamin D and calcium to prevent cancer or fractures. The draft guidance also suggested vitamin D and calcium could equate to a greater risk of kidney stones in older women.

"Many people take the supplements, but the science was insufficient to make recommendations for everyone," stated panel member Timothy Wilt of the University of Minnesota.

In response, the Council for Responsible Nutrition urged caution in interpreting what the Task Force report means for recommending vitamin D and calcium supplementation. “The draft report … does not change expert recommendations for the benefits of calcium," stated Taylor Wallace, senior director of scientific and regulatory affairs at CRN. "The Institute of Medicine supports a recommended dietary allowance of 600 IU to 800 IU of vitamin D and 1,000 mg to 1,300 mg of calcium daily for adults," he added, citing long-term randomized controlled trials, systematic reviews and meta-analyses that support that supplementation with calcium and vitamin D is beneficial for bone health, particularly in post-menopausal women and the elderly, when the diet is not sufficient.

"Even though the USPSTF’s recommendations are based on a large body of evidence, the draft report recognized that in the largest [randomized control trial], the Women’s Health Initiative study, the vitamin D dose used ‘may have been too low to cause an effect,’" Taylor added.

Previously, the USPSTF found that supplementation with vitamin D was beneficial in preventing incidences of falls among adults ages 65 years and older. Since falls commonly result in fractures, it’s common sense for the elderly to consider supplementing with vitamin D and calcium, Taylor noted.

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