Deficiencies in calcium and vitamin D are common in older individuals, particularly those who live in nursing homes. These deficiencies increase the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures. Recent studies show supplementation can decrease this risk and provide secondary benefits.
At the Rheumatology Department, North Hospital Group in France, researchers conducted a study of supplementation with calcium and vitamin D for 12 months in women 65 years and older with vitamin D deficiency. They found the bone mineral density increase was significantly greater in the calcium/vitamin D group than in a placebo group. The results lead researchers to conclude that bone mass in older women with vitamin D deficiency increases significantly at various bone sites after one year of calcium and vitamin D supplementation.
At the University of Auckland in New Zealand, researchers found that calcium citrate supplementation resulted in a secondary benefit to cholesterol levels. The researchers randomly assigned 223 healthy women (aged 68–76 years) to receive calcium or placebo for one year. Measurements for high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or “good”) cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol were taken at the beginning, mid-point and completion of the study. After 12 months, both HDL cholesterol levels and the HDL to LDL ratio had increased more in the calcium group than in the placebo group. This positive result was due to a 7% increase in HDL cholesterol levels combined with a 6% decrease in LDL cholesterol levels.
Sources: Joint Bone Spine. 2003 Jun;70(3):203-8; Am J Med. 2002 Apr 1;112(5):343-7