Calcium and vitamin D for bone health

The Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) said today’s World Osteoporosis Day shines the spotlight on calcium and vitamin D and the vital role they play in preventing osteoporosis.


Steve Scarff, ASMI Regulatory and Scientific Affairs Director, said: “There is a substantial body of research that demonstrates vitamin D, in combination with calcium, can reduce the risk of osteoporosis and is of benefit in preventing osteoporosis-attributed fractures.


“Vitamin D is essential for the body to absorb calcium effectively, which is important for bone health and muscle function and for preventing conditions such as osteoporosis. Sufficient vitamin D intake is particularly important in low-light conditions, as the body’s ability to synthesise the compound is dependent on exposure to sunlight8.


“Older adults are recommended to have at least 10 to 15 micrograms of vitamin D per day in their diet. However, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, nearly a quarter of Australians, or one in four people, have a vitamin D deficiency 9,10.


“The 2011-13 Australian Health Survey found that one in twenty people used a vitamin D supplement and that vitamin D deficiency was much lower in those who took a supplement. For people who aren’t obtaining adequate vitamin D from natural sources such as sunlight, supplementation is a highly effective way to fill the gap10.


The Australian Therapeutic Guidelines: Endocrinology state: “Calcium supplementation can reduce the rate of bone loss. Supplementation may also reduce fracture rates. The benefit is most marked in older women with a low dietary calcium intake but without previous fragility fractures. For fracture benefit plasma vitamin D concentration needs to be optimised as well as calcium11,” he added.


A recent study by Frost and Sullivan reviewed seven randomised controlled studies that tested for a cause and effect relationship between utilisation of vitamin D and calcium supplements and osteoporosis-attributed bone fractures. The study found that the relative risk reduction of an osteoporosis-attributed fracture event given the use of vitamin D and calcium at preventive intake levels was 19.7% 12.


“Australians who are unsure about their calcium and vitamin D intake are encouraged to talk to a qualified healthcare professional, who can provide advice on ways to monitor and if needed, increase calcium and vitamin D levels,” concluded Mr Scarff.


More studies still need to be undertaken to determine the level of observed benefits that would be gained from an appropriate bodily level of vitamin D alone.


See an article countering the use of calcium supplements "Increasing calcium intake unlikely to boost bone health" at


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20 October 2015.