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Calcium and vitamin D revisited.

Taking calcium and vitamin D doesn't appear to raise the risk of heart disease or stroke--or to lower the risk of dementia--as some studies had suggested.

Researchers re-examined the results of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI), which gave 36,000 women either a placebo or calcium (1,000 mg a day) plus vitamin D (400 IU a day) for seven years. However, all of the women were also allowed to take calcium and vitamin D supplements on the side, so the trial ended up testing adequate calcium intakes (1,000 mg a day) in the placebo takers versus high intakes (roughly 2,000 mg a day) in the calcium takers.

The women assigned to take calcium and vitamin D had no higher risk of heart disease or stroke, but they did have a 17 percent increased risk of kidney stones.

As for bones, the women who took no calcium supplements on the side and who kept taking the calcium and vitamin D they got from the trial had a 75 percent lower risk of hip fracture than those who took no calcium on the side and got a placebo. However, the authors cautioned that something else about people who stick to a study protocol might have accounted for their lower risk.

And when researchers gave cognitive tests to roughly 4,000 of the WHI women, those assigned to take calcium and vitamin D had no lower risk of dementia over eight years.

What to do: Shoot for the RDA for calcium (1,200 mg a day) and vitamin D (600 IU a day up to age 70 and 800 IU a day over 70) from food and supplements combined.

Osteoporos. Int. DOI:10.1007/s00198-012-2224-2 and J. Am. Geriatr. Soc. DOI: 0.1111/jgs.12032.

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Title Annotation:QUICK STUDIES
Publication:Nutrition Action Healthletter
Article Type:Brief article
Date:Jan 1, 2013
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