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Vitamin D plus calcium: Does the combination really extend life?

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Study suggests calcium, vitamin D combo helps seniors live longer

Vitamin D is emerging as an important player for curbing a variety of diseases. Low levels are linked to higher risk of cancer, fractures, heart disease and other chronic illnesses. New research suggests a combination of calcium plus vitamin D could help older adults live longer, but more studies are needed before your doctor might recommend your or senior family members start taking supplements.

Vitamin D plus calcium might boost overall senior health

Researchers looked at data from eight randomized, controlled vitamin D trials that included over 1000 participants in each study.

"This is the largest study ever performed on effects of calcium and vitamin D on mortality," said Lars Rejnmark, PhD from Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark who led the study.

Most of the participants in the study were women and their average age was 70.

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Compared to elders who were taking just vitamin D, the overall death rate was 9 percent lower for seniors taking a combination of vitamin D and calcium.

"Some studies have suggested calcium (with or without vitamin D) supplements can have adverse effects on cardiovascular health," said Rejnmark”, who adds, “Although our study does not rule out such effects, we found that calcium with vitamin D supplementation to elderly participants is overall not harmful to survival, and may have beneficial effects on general health".

The finding, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (JCEM), suggests a combination of vitamin D and calcium can help seniors live longer. The benefits seem to go beyond just preventing falls and fracture and were compared to just taking vitamin D alone, but larger studies are need to verify the finding.

Speak with your doctor about taking any supplements. More studies are needed to verify the benefits of vitamin D either alone or in combination with calcium for helping seniors live longer.

Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism
“Vitamin D with calcium reduces mortality: patient –level pooled analysis of 70, 528 patients from eight major vitamin D trials”
J Clin endocrinol Metab, DOI: 10.1210/jc2011-3328
Renjnmark L, et al.

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