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Vitamin D Plus Calcium Supplement May Prolong Life

Vitamin D Plus Calcium Supplement May Prolong Life

(epharmanews)- Older people who take vitamin D in addition to calcium supplements may live longer, according to an international review of several studies covering more than 70,000 people.

findings, still to be published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology, suggest that older people who took the supplements were 9% less likely to die over three years than those given placebo pills. However, vitamin D alone did not affect death rates.

"Our study provides evidence of a cause-effect relationship -- that calcium and vitamin D causes beneficial effects to general health," said study author Dr. Lars Rejnmark, an assistant professor at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark. "Calcium with vitamin D has now been proven to reduce risk of osteoporotic fractures and death in the elderly."

Rejnmark’s team analyzed data of more than 70,000 people who were around 70 years old and had taken part in one of eight trials that pitted vitamin D or vitamin D plus calcium against an inactive placebo by randomly assigning participants to one of the treatments. In each trial, people were randomly assigned to take vitamin D or a placebo. Some studies used a combination of vitamin D and calcium.

On average, participants were given a daily vitamin D dose of 10 to 20 micrograms. Health officials recommend that adults take 15 micrograms of vitamin D per day, while people older than 70 should aim to get 20 micrograms (or 800 IU). As for trials that used calcium, participants were given 1000 mg per day. It is recommended that people who are over 70 years old and postmenopausal women should take 1200 mg to avoid the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis.

Earlier trials have proved the effectiveness of vitamin D and calcium combination in preventing falls and bone fractures in the elderly which may be deadly. However, that does not explain the lower death risk in this study. When the researchers factored in hip and spine fractures, they did not account for the dip in death risk.

Another possibility is that supplements curbed people's risk of dying from cancer. Rejnmark said there's some evidence that calcium and vitamin D may lower the odds of colon cancer, but the evidence is not yet "firm".

Dr. Michael Holick, a professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics at Boston University School of Medicine, said that "other studies have shown that if you have adequate vitamin D, [it] can reduce the risk of mortality by about 7 percent."

Although the exact mechanism of why these supplements prolong life is not known, Holick believes that both improve cell function and cardiovascular health, he said.

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Prepared by: Abdullatief Janat

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