Atrás Taking calcium supplements to prevent fractures is not proven to be effective for the general population

Taking calcium supplements to prevent fractures is not proven to be effective for the general population

An assessment by Nutrimedia concludes that calcium supplements may not reduce the risk of hip fracture and probably do not reduce the risk of other fracture types



Consuming an adequate amount of calcium in our diet is necessary to keep bones strong and healthy. Exposure to sunlight is also important so that the skin can produce vitamin D, as this vitamin facilitates the absorption of calcium. Based on these facts, the idea that taking calcium and vitamin D supplements helps prevent fractures has become well-established among the general population. However, a new assessment by Nutrimedia, a project of UPF's Observatory of Scientific Communication and the Iberoamerican Cochrane Centre which scientifically analyses the truth behind the nutritional advice shows that the idea that "taking calcium supplements helps prevent fractures" could be false.

An earlier assessment by Nutrimedia already affirmed that the idea that taking vitamin D supplements to prevent fractures is false. Together with the new study, and with the evidence more widely available, it shows that taking calcium supplements to prevent fractures for people over 50 cannot be proven to be true, as many of the best practical clinical guides have advised.

Nutrimedia assesses the degree of certainty of the scientific evidence about diet and health. In the case of vitamin D supplements analysed in Nutrimedia's previous study, the certainty of the evidence shown by the study's conclusions was already confirmed as being high. They were therefore able to conclude that taking vitamin D supplements to prevent fractures for the general population is a myth.

In the case of calcium supplements analysed in Nutrimedia's latest study, no differences were observed in the risks of different types of fractures between people who take supplements and those who do not. The certainty of these results is low for hip fractures and moderate for vertebral, non-vertebral and other types of fracture. This means that the results of the present study about the prevention of the risk of hip fracture, which tends to have more serious health consequences, has not yet achieved a sufficient level of certainty. Therefore, the overall conclusion of the assessment is that the fact of taking calcium supplements might not reduce the risk of fracture for the general population.

"Calcium supplements can cause side effects and do not have any benefits for people generally, if they live in their own homes, which is why it is only recommended for people living in care homes or in other institutions", explains Dario López Gallegos, author of the assessment report and doctor at the Metropolitana Sud Health Centre within the Health Department of the Catalan government. "However, taking supplements could be helpful for people over 70 with significant nutritional deficiencies, who have little exposure to the sun and who consume very little calcium in their diets, as mentioned in the PAPPS guide by the Spanish Society for Family and Community Medicine, updated in 2022" - adds the report's author.




Nutrimedia is a project of UPF's Observatory of Scientific Communication (OCC-UPF) and the Iberoamerican Cochrane Centre (CCIb), with the collaboration of the Spanish Foundation of Science and Technology in the Ministry for Science and Innovation, which scientifically assesses the degree of veracity of messages about diet and health (news, advertisements, myths and the public's queries). The results of the assessments, which are published on the project's website, aim to offer data and scientific criteria to help the general public to make informed decisions about nutrition. The OCC-UPF is a special research centre for studying the transfer of scientific and technological knowledge in society. The CCIb is one of the Cochrane International Centres, an international organisation which through its systematic reviews has contributed towards transforming decision-making about health interventions.



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