NOF Responds to the USPSTF Draft Recommendations on Calcium and Vitamin D
WASHINGTON, DC (June 15, 2012) — On June 12, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) released draft recommendations stating that there is insufficient evidence to assess the balance of the benefits and harms of calcium and vitamin D supplementation for the primary prevention of fractures. These recommendations do not apply to women with osteoporosis or broken bones after age 50 or those with significant risk factors for fracture. While calcium and vitamin D alone may not prevent fractures, the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) believes that these nutrients are an important part of bone health management.
NOF recommends that all women age 50 and older, including healthy women and those with low bone density or osteoporosis, get 1,200 milligrams (mg) of calcium and 800-1,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily. This position is widely accepted within the medical community.
“Everyone needs enough calcium and vitamin D for good health, especially for bone health. Media coverage of the recommendations that does not highlight the important benefits of these nutrients to bone health could lead individuals to stop taking the needed amounts without consulting with their healthcare provider,” said Robert Recker, M.D., NOF President. “Osteoporosis medications don't work without calcium and vitamin D. We are concerned that insufficient intake of these nutrients could contribute to a greater number of broken bones.”
NOF encourages all individuals to choose calcium-rich food sources first. Supplements should be used to make up for a shortfall of calcium in the diet. Because there are few dietary sources of vitamin D, and the use of sunscreen is widespread, most people will need to take a vitamin D supplement to achieve and maintain healthy vitamin D levels.
“The USPSTF’s conclusions that 1,000 mg a day of calcium and 400 IUs of vitamin D do not prevent fractures in healthy women are not surprising. We have known for a long time that calcium and vitamin D are critical but are not enough alone to prevent fractures, and in high risk women, medication to lower fracture risk is also needed. Sufficient amounts of calcium and vitamin D are essential to the overall treatment plan for women at increased risk of breaking a bone. This includes women with low bone density, osteoporosis and those with previous fractures,” said Dr. Ethel Siris, Immediate Past President of NOF. “Many women need to add a supplement to their diet to ensure they are getting enough calcium and vitamin D; however, the media reports are confusing and will likely lead women in these higher risk groups to stop taking the appropriate supplements altogether. This would be harmful to their bone health.”
NOF strongly urges all individuals to get the recommended amounts of calcium and vitamin D to protect bone health. Patients should talk to their healthcare providers about their individual needs for calcium and vitamin D and never discontinue supplements without checking first with their doctor.
Please visit NOF’s Calcium: What You Should Know and Vitamin D and Bone Health.
About the National Osteoporosis Foundation
Established in 1984, the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) is the leading consumer and community-focused health organization dedicated to the prevention of osteoporosis and broken bones, the promotion of strong bones for life and the reduction of human suffering through programs of public and clinician awareness, education, advocacy and research. For more information about the National Osteoporosis Foundation, visit www.nof.org.
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