Five-Year Study Shows 1200 mg of Calcium Per Day Reduces Fracture Risk In Senior Women

While newspaper press releases said that this study showed that calcium was not effective in reducing the risk of fracture in senior women, this was only true with women who did not take calcium consistently. Women who took the full dose of calcium at least 80 percent of the time had 33 percent less fractures than senior women who took no calcium supplement and only got calcium from their diet, amounting to about 600 mg per day.

This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study involved 1,460 women with an average age of 75 years old. They received 600 mg of calcium carbonate twice per day for five years. During the study 16.1 percent of them experienced at least one clinical fracture. When women who didn't consistently take calcium were factored out of the study, 830 women were left who took the full 1200 mg of calcium per day. These women showed significant benefits including 33 percent less fractures, improved bone density as measured by ultra-sound measurement of the heal, improved bone density of the femoral neck and whole-body according to dual x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) data, and improved bone strength compared to the women in the placebo group who only got calcium from their diet.

This study and the press coverage it received are examples of the continuing misinformation campaign against dietary supplements. Newpaper headlines said that this study showed that calcium supplementation didn't work. It didn't work for the women who didn't consistently take their daily calcium dose, but it did for the 830 women who took their calcium consistently.

For looks at other misinformation about nutrients, such as Vitamin E, see:

“Effects of calcium supplementation on clinical fracture and bone structure: results of a 5-year, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in elderly women,” Prince RL, Devine A, Et al, Arch Intern Med., 2006; 166(8): 869-875. (Address: School of Medicine and Pharmacology, University of Western Australia, Australia. E-Mail: ).

Michael Mooney