Calcium and vitamin D do not reduce fracture risk in community-dwelling older people

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While practice guidelines recommend calcium and vitamin D supplements for older people to prevent fractures in those with osteoporosis, new findings suggest they may not be beneficial for community-dwelling adults. 

Previous studies have come to mixed conclusions about an association between supplements and fracture risk. As part of a new study, published in JAMA, researchers examined data on 51,145 adults included in 33 randomised trials to investigate whether calcium, vitamin D, or combined calcium and vitamin D supplements are associated with a lower fracture incidence in community-dwelling older adults.

They found calcium, calcium plus vitamin D, and vitamin D supplementation alone were not significantly associated with a lower incidence of hip, nonvertebral, vertebral, or total fractures in community-dwelling older adults.  

The authors highlighted previous research, which reported that calcium and vitamin D supplements lowered fracture risk for individuals living in residential institutions. They said that these populations are more likely to have osteoporosis because of poorer mobility, infrequent sun exposure, and poorer diet, and that older people living in residential care communities may benefit from calcium or vitamin D supplements. However, they concluded that the findings do not support the routine use of these supplements in community-dwelling older people.