Sunday, March 05, 2006

WHI Study Results of Calcium and Vitamin D Supplements for Bone Health

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) released a press release on February 15, 2006 in regards to a major clinical trial that was part of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI). The title of the press release - Calcium and Vitamin D Supplements Offer Modest Bone Improvements, No Benefits for Colorectal Cancer - in my opinion, is a little misleading. As I saw more and more articles referencing this release and downplaying the health benefits of Calcium and Vitamin D for preserving bone mass I had to go and read the results for myself.

Turns out the "overall" results of the study demonstrate that women should consider taking calcium and vitamin D for bone health but they should not expect these supplements to help prevent colorectal cancer.

At initial glance - the results reported due appear to suggest that there is no real benefit in terms of preventing fractures through the use of calcium and vitamin D. Then as you read deeper into the actual conditions of the study it is revealed that only 59% of the women were taking the Calcium and Vitamin D supplements as intended.

The study's lead investigator at Ohio State University in Columbus, Rebecca D. Jackson, M.D., endocrinologist said that "In a secondary analysis, we found a significant 29 percent decrease in hip fracture risk among women who took most of their study pills - that's four fewer hip fractures for every 10,000 women per year."

"The study's findings of slowed bone loss and the reduction in hip fractures for some groups suggest a role for these supplements in preventing hip fracture in generally healthy postmenopausal women and support the current Surgeon General's recommendations for these nutrients," added Joan McGowan, Ph.D., of the NIH's National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) and a co-author on the paper.

McGowan, who is also the senior scientific editor of the Surgeon General's report on bone health noted, however, that supplements may not be necessary for healthy women whose diet meets recommended levels of calcium and vitamin D.

I believe it is safe to say, that while the results of the study were not as obvious as we would have liked - it still demonstrates that Calcium and Vitamin D supplements significantly reduce the risk of fractures and improve bone health in your average menopausal women.

If you would like to read the press release for yourself, check it out at:


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