THURSDAY, Aug. 23, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- In people older than 50, calcium supplementation cut the overall risk of bone fractures by about 12 percent, Australian researchers report.
Dr. Benjamin Tang, of the University of Western Sydney, and colleagues analyzed 17 previous studies of more than 52,600 people over age 50. All of the participants took calcium supplements for an average of three to five years.
The meta-analysis, published in the Aug. 25 issue of The Lancet, showed that patients who adhered to the correct dosing regimen had a 24 percent lower fracture risk.
Daily calcium doses of more than 1,200 milligrams reduced fracture risk by 20 percent, compared to six percent for doses of less than 1,200 milligrams, according to the research.
Calcium supplementation, in combination with vitamin D doses of 800 international units (IU) per day, reduced fracture risk by 16 percent compared with 13 percent for vitamin D doses of less than 800 IU.
In a separate review of 23 studies that had examined bone density, the researchers found that calcium supplementation alone, or in combination with vitamin D supplementation, reduced the rate of hip bone loss by 0.54 percent and spinal bone loss by 1.19 percent.
"Unlike previous meta-analyses, Tang provides clear answers to several questions which could be of immediate practical importance for the daily management of osteoporosis," Dr. Jean-Yves Reginster, of the Bone and Cartilage Metabolism Unit of the CHU Centre Ville, in Liege, Belgium, wrote in an accompanying editorial.
The findings pave "the way for future research aiming at the best clinical, pharmacological, and economic optimization of the use of calcium and vitamin D in patients at increased risk of osteoporotic fractures," Reginster wrote.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has more about calcium.