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Vitamin D Alone Is Not Enough – Calcium Also Needed for Bone Benefits

Vitamin D is often recommended for improving and maintaining bone health. A recent study of postmenopausal women suggests, however, that vitamin D3 alone may not have bone health benefits. On the other hand, when calcium was given either alone or in combination with vitamin D3, researchers found bone turnover was reduced. This was determined by measuring bone turnover markers in the blood, such as levels of parathyroid hormone.

Bone turnover is the process of the body removing old bone. High bone turnover becomes an issue later in life, when the body is no longer able to produce new bone at the same rate as the old bone is being removed.

Participants in the study included 159 postmenopausal women. Over the course of six months, the women undertook one of three interventions:

1. 1,200 mg of calcium daily;

2. 4,000 IU of vitamin D daily;

3. a combination of calcium and vitamin D;

4. a placebo.

The researchers measured bone turnover markers at the conclusion of the study and found that the women given only vitamin D had no changes, while the women given calcium or the combination of calcium and vitamin D experienced a significant reduction in bone turnover markers.

Researchers from Withrop University Hospital in Mineola, USA, conducted the study. It was published on September 24, 2013, in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Previous studies suggest that calcium may help with weight loss, skin health, and reducing the risk of stroke. Try adding more dairy products or take a high quality supplement if you’re trying to increase your calcium intake.

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