Vitamin D plus Calcium Supplements Reduce Risk for Death
Researchers Lars Rejnmark, MD, PhD, and colleagues from the Aarhus University in Aarhus, Denmark report that vitamin D and calcium supplements appear to be linked with lower death rates among older individuals. This comes in contrast to another study in postmenopausal women, which concluded that vitamin D supplements up to 400 IU and 1,000 mg of calcium appear to have no benefits.
Previous studies have shown conflicting results on the benefits of vitamin D in reducing deaths, although a couple of studies have shown that when combined with calcium, the supplements may lower death risk.
To further investigate the issue, the researchers performed meta-analyses of both patient-level and trial-level data from randomized controlled trials evaluating the impact of vitamin D supplements on risk for fracture. These supplements included either vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) or vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol).
The patient-level meta-analysis included eight trials with a total of more than 70,000 participants. Results showed that there is a 7% lower mortality risk for those who received vitamin D supplementation, with or without calcium. However, on closer evaluation, the study showed that the reduction in risk was significant for those taking calcium plus vitamin D, but not for participants taking vitamin D only.
The trial-level meta-analysis which included 24 trials gave similar results. Although calcium supplements have been implicated as a factor to an increased risk for heart attack, the researchers believe that a combination of calcium and vitamin D may reduce the risk of cancer, especially that of breast and colorectal cancer. They also stated that the effects of the two combined may be greater than either one alone.
Neale, T. Vitamin D Plus Calcium May Cut Mortality Risk. Medpage Today.