Calcium and Crohn’s: Supplements can save patients’ bones without extra drugs

According to a recent study, the addition of popular bone building drugs to calcium and vitamin D therapy to treat bone loss associated with Crohn’s disease is not beneficial. Moreover, the study shows that calcium and vitamin D treatment alone can improve bone mineral density (BMD) in Crohn’s patients by 3 to 4% per year.

“Patients with Crohn’s often suffer loss of bone mass and an increased number of bone fractures due to treatment with corticosteroids, poor nutrition, active inflammation and calcium and vitamin D deficiencies,” said Charles Bernstein, MD. “Calcium and vitamin D have long been used to enhance bone mass in people with Crohn’s, and findings of these studies show it to be sufficient in maintaining BMD in these patients.”

Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes chronic inflammation of the intestinal wall.

Prevention and treatment of low BMD associated with Crohn’s disease includes vitamin D and calcium supplementation, education and lifestyle changes such as regular exercise and smoking cessation. Further randomized clinical trials are underway to determine if newer bone-building drugs will have additional beneficial effects on building bone mass in Crohn’s patients. The results of those studies will not be available until next year. Until then, researchers suggest vitamin D and calcium supplementation as the primary treatment for bone loss in these patients.

American Gastroenterological Association, Feb 1, 2005