Do Older Adults Need Calcium and Vitamin D Supplements?
The older you get, the more likely you are to develop osteoporosis—a condition in which your bones become weak and easier to break. Calcium and vitamin D play key roles in helping keep your bones strong.
So, does that mean you or someone you love should be taking calcium and vitamin D supplements?
Research says …
Maybe not, according to a recent study in JAMA. The authors analyzed the results from 33 clinical trials. They found that taking calcium and vitamin D supplements did not lower the risk of breaking a bone for older adults living independently. This suggests that the supplements may be a waste of money for many older adults.
Still, everyone is different. Some people at high risk for osteoporosis may benefit from taking calcium and vitamin D supplements. Talk with your doctor about what’s right for you or your loved one.
Ask your doctor whether you or your loved one should get a bone density test. This test looks for a high loss of bone tissue, which increases the risk for painful and disabling broken bones.
When needed, a doctor can prescribe medicine to prevent more bone loss or build new bone.
Here are other ways to protect bone health:
Eat a balanced diet rich in calcium. Good sources include low-fat milk and dairy products, dark green leafy vegetables, sardines, and calcium-fortified drinks and cereals.
Include foods containing vitamin D. This vitamin is found in egg yolks, saltwater fish, liver, and D-fortified milk and cereals.
Don’t smoke or drink heavily. Both are bad for bones, and heavy drinking increases the risk for a bone-breaking fall.
Get weight-bearing physical activity. Examples include walking, jogging, climbing stairs, dancing, tennis, and weight training.
Print out a list of questions about bone health to take to a doctor appointment. Get the checklist here.
Online Medical Reviewer:
Mercer, Nelda, MS, RD, FADA
Date Last Reviewed:
© 2000-2019 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.