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Nutrition, Vitamins & Supplements for Seniors

No Real Solutions from Task Force for Older Women on Vitamin D, Calcium to Avoid Fractures

Low dose not effective and larger dose may not be either for postmenopausal women or men

Feb. 26, 2013 – Older women trying to prevent the danger of fractures by taking vitamin D and calcium must be scratching their heads today after a puzzling recommendation yesterday from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. They said that taking less than 400 IU of vitamin D3 and less than 1,000 mg of calcium is ineffective and the evidence is inconclusive that higher doses are effective either.

This was among several recommendations issued yesterday by the Task Force pertaining to these supplements.

They also found that the current evidence is also insufficient to make a recommendation on vitamin D and calcium supplements for the prevention of fractures for men and premenopausal women.

 

Related Archive Stories

 
 

Vitamin D Supplement Did Not Reduce Knee Pain, Cartilage Loss in Seniors with Osteoarthritis

Older American men and women participated in study of how to control age-related problem

Jan. 8, 2013

More links to older stories about Vitamin C and Calcium below news report


Read more on Nutrition, Vitamins & Supplements

 

“Vitamin D and calcium are known to play an important role in maintaining health, including bone health. However, despite the large number of studies done there are few conclusive answers about the ability of vitamin D and calcium supplements to prevent fractures,” stated Task Force member and chair Virginia Moyer, M.D., M.P.H.

“The Task Force has determined the evidence is inconclusive that higher doses of vitamin D and calcium supplements are effective in preventing fractures in postmenopausal women. The evidence was also inconclusive for fracture prevention in men and premenopausal women. What we do know is that doses less than or equal to 400 IU of vitamin D (or 1000 mg of calcium) are not effective at preventing fractures in postmenopausal women.”

Senior Citizen Bone Disorders

As they get older, millions of people (mostly women, but men too) develop, or are at risk of, osteoporosis, where bones become fragile and may fracture if one falls.

It is one consequence of not getting enough calcium and vitamin D over the long term.

Supplements of both vitamin D3 (at 700–800 IU/day) and calcium (500–1,200 mg/day) have been shown to reduce the risk of bone loss and fractures in elderly people aged 62–85 years.

Men and women should talk with their health care providers about their needs for vitamin D (and calcium) as part of an overall plan to prevent or treat osteoporosis.

More about vitamin D

Office of Dietary Supplements of National Institutes of Health

“It’s important to remember that this recommendation applies to people who do not have a known vitamin D deficiency or osteoporosis,” said Task Force member Jessica Herzstein, M.D., M.P.H.

“Vitamin D plays a role in a wide range of general health functions, and there appears to be minimal harms in taking vitamin D supplements. Clinicians and patients may take this into consideration when determining whether to recommend or take vitamin D for general health.”

The Task Force’s recommendation has been published online in the Annals of Internal Medicine, as well as on the Task Force Website at: http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org.

A fact sheet that explains the draft recommendation statement in plain language is also available online at: http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/uspsvitd.htm.

Because the Task Force recognizes that vitamin D has benefits beyond the prevention of fractures, it has begun evaluating the effectiveness of screening for vitamin D deficiency. The draft research plan for this topic was posted for public comment today and is available at http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/tfcomment.htm.

The Task Force is an independent volunteer panel of national experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine that works to improve the health of all Americans by making evidence-based recommendations about clinical preventive services such as screenings, counseling services, and preventive medications.

IOM and Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D

Calcium and vitamin D are two essential nutrients long known for their role in bone health. Over the last ten years, the public has heard conflicting messages about other benefits of these nutrients—especially vitamin D—and also about how much calcium and vitamin D they need to be healthy.

To help clarify this issue, the U. S. and Canadian governments asked the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to assess the current data on health outcomes associated with calcium and vitamin D. The IOM tasked a committee of experts with reviewing the evidence, as well as updating the nutrient reference values, known as Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs).

These values are used widely by government agencies, for example, in setting standards for school meals or specifying the nutrition label on foods. Over time, they have come to be used by health professionals to counsel individuals about dietary intake.

The committee provided an exhaustive review of studies on potential health outcomes and found that the evidence supported a role for these nutrients in bone health but not in other health conditions. Overall, the committee concludes that the majority of Americans and Canadians are receiving adequate amounts of both calcium and vitamin D. Further, there is emerging evidence that too much of these nutrients may be harmful.

 

Links to More Archived Reports About Vitamin D

Low Vitamin D Level Increases Risk for Aging Women of Alzheimer’s, Cognitive Decline

Women who developed Alzheimer’s disease had lower vitamin D intake; low vitamin D among older women associated with global cognitive impairment

Nov. 30, 2012


Low Levels of Vitamin D Indicate Much Higher Risk for Heart Attack, Early Death

Large study funded by Danish Heart Foundation used blood samples from 10,000 Danes

Sept. 24, 2012


Senior Citizens Live Longer Taking Vitamin D with Calcium: Large Study

Increased longevity for elderly won’t happen with vitamin D alone says largest study ever

June 15, 2012


Senior Citizens Need More Vitamin D to Prevent Loss of Mobility

Low vitamin D indicated 30% increased risk of mobility; almost a two-fold higher risk of mobility disability

May 29, 2012


Three-Quarters of Cancer Patients Lack Enough Vitamin D; Lowest Levels, Worst Cancers

‘There are various levels of evidence to support that vitamin D has a role in either the prevention or the prediction of outcome of cancer’

Oct. 3, 2011


Vitamin D Acts as Protective Agent Against the Advance of Colon Cancer

Study by VHIO researchers confirms lack of vitamin D increases the aggressiveness of colon cancer

Aug. 16, 2011


Vitamin D Appears Linked With Risk of Skin Cancer, Although Relationship Complex

Study looked at vitamin D level in senior citizens with non-melanoma skin cancers

Aug. 15, 2011


Vitamin D Helps Build Bone But Evidence Lacking That It Lowers Risk of Other Disease

IOM sets new dietary intake levels for calcium and vitamin D: Aging senior citizens, especially women, need more than others

Nov. 30, 2010


Vitamin D Deficiency Rampant in Patients for Orthopedic Surgery, Damaging Recovery

People undergoing procedures involving bone or muscle should correct their vitamin D if they want an earlier faster, better, result  - Oct. 6, 2010


Low Vitamin D in Senior Citizens Signals Cognitive Decline; Higher Parkinson’s Risk

An estimated 40 to 100% of seniors in U.S. and Europe are deficient in vitamin D: linked to fractures, various chronic diseases and death

July 12, 2010


Senior Citizens with Highest Levels of Vitamin D Show Most Vitality as They Age

Will vitamin D research lead us to The Fountain of Youth?New study does say participants with better physical function may have higher vitamin D simply because they go outside more often

April 26, 2010


Senior Citizens with High Levels of Vitamin D at Less Risk of Heart Disease, Diabetes

Review of 28 studies finds the vitamin associated with a substantial decrease in cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome for seniors and middle aged

Feb. 16, 2010


Fractures that Plague Senior Citizens Can be Reduced by Taking Calcium with Vitamin D

Large study supports growing consensus that combined calcium and vitamin D is more effective than vitamin D alone in reducing fractures

Jan. 14, 2010


More Sunlight May Provide Senior Citizens with Lower Risk of Heart Disease, Diabetes

Prevalence of dangerous metabolic syndrome found among those with low vitamin D levels

May 11, 2009


Calcium Lowers Cancer Risk in Older People: More So for Women Than Men

Long respected by senior citizens as a nutrient for building strength in aging bones, calcium now adds ‘cancer fighter’ to its resume

Feb. 24, 2009


Link Between Blood Pressure and Outside Temperature for Seniors May Tie to Vitamin D

Researchers also urging close monitoring of elderly with hypertension during weather extremes; second study says thinking ability varies with blood pressure

Jan. 16, 2009


Vitamin D is ‘It’ Nutrient with Success Against Diabetes, Cancer, Heart Disease, Osteoporosis

Many of the 23 million Americans with diabetes have low vitamin D levels

Jan. 12, 2009


Scientists Find New Way to Detect, Treat Vitamin D Deficiency that Threatens Heart

Lack of vitamin D spells heart trouble as well as a lot of other ailments

Dec. 2, 2008


Remember the Bump? It's Back for Older Women as Way to Prevent Falls, Hip Fractures

Website to fight falls and fractured hips, Survey finds women not well informed – offers calcium calculator

Sept. 13, 2008


Low Level of Vitamin D Seems to Be Invitation to Most Deadly Diseases: Increases Death Risk

May be associated with death through effect on blood pressure, the body’s ability to respond to insulin, obesity and diabetes risk

Aug. 12, 2008


Calcium Calculator Now Online to Help Senior Citizens Fight Osteoporosis, Bone Breaks

People who are physically active and get enough calcium can strengthen their bones - even in old age

Sept. 12, 2008

 

Vitamins and Minerals: About Vitamin D

Vitamins are organic substances (made by plants or animals), minerals are inorganic elements that come from the earth; soil and water and are absorbed by plants. Animals and humans absorb minerals from the plants they eat. Vitamins and minerals are nutrients that your body needs to grow and develop normally.

Vitamins and minerals have a unique role to play in maintaining your health. For example Vitamin D helps your body absorb the amount of calcium (a mineral) it needs to form strong bones. A deficiency in vitamin D can result in a disease called rickets (softening of the bones caused by the bodies inability to absorb the mineral calcium.) The body cannot produce calcium; therefore, it must be absorbed through our food.

Other minerals like chromium, copper, iodine, iron, selenium, and zinc are called trace minerals because you only need very small amounts of them each day. The best way to get enough vitamins is to eat a balanced diet with a variety of foods. You can usually get all your vitamins from the foods you eat.

About Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in very few foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement. It is also produced endogenously when ultraviolet rays from sunlight strike the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis. Vitamin D obtained from sun exposure, food, and supplements is biologically inert and must undergo two hydroxylations in the body for activation.

The first occurs in the liver and converts vitamin D to 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D], also known as calcidiol. The second occurs primarily in the kidney and forms the physiologically active 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D [1,25(OH)2D], also known as calcitriol.

Vitamin D is essential for promoting calcium absorption in the gut and maintaining adequate serum calcium and phosphate concentrations to enable normal mineralization of bone and prevent hypocalcemic tetany.

It is also needed for bone growth and bone remodeling by osteoblasts and osteoclasts. Without sufficient vitamin D, bones can become thin, brittle, or misshapen. Vitamin D sufficiency prevents rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults.

Together with calcium, vitamin D also helps protect older adults from osteoporosis.

Vitamin D has other roles in human health, including modulation of neuromuscular and immune function and reduction of inflammation. Many genes encoding proteins that regulate cell proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis are modulated in part by vitamin D. Many laboratory-cultured human cells have vitamin D receptors and some convert 25(OH)D to 1,25(OH)2D. It remains to be determined whether cells with vitamin D receptors in the intact human carry out this conversion.

>> Read more at the National Institutes of Health, Office Dietary Supplements

 

 

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