We’re wasting our money on these supplements, review finds

Review finds that supplements may actually increase the risk of “adverse health outcomes”.

Thirty per cent of adult Australians have a vitamin D deficiency, according to Osteoporosis Australia, placing them at risk of bone and joint pain and a heightened risk of falls and bone fractures.

As a result, more than 40 per cent of Australian adults, the majority of them women and the elderly, regularly take supplements, feeding a multibillion-dollar industry.

However, a review published in the Medical Journal of Australia this week has found there is insufficient evidence to support taking these supplements in any form, and that they may actually increase the risk of “adverse health outcomes”.

“The major trials in community-dwelling individuals have not demonstrated fracture prevention with either calcium, vitamin D or their combination,” said the authors, Professor Ian Reid and Associate Professor Mark Bolland, from the University of Auckland.

“Calcium supplements in healthy individuals are not needed, nor are they required in most people receiving treatment for osteoporosis.”

The authors warned that calcium supplements could cause constipation, bloating and kidney stones, and could increase the risk of myocardial infarction.

They said we should focus on obtaining these nutrients naturally.

“Why calcium supplements act differently to calcium-rich foods is not really known,” said practising dietitian Dr Joanna McMillan. “But it is likely that the food matrix and delivery of the calcium may be key.”

Calcium is essential for healthy bones, muscles and organs. It’s found in dairy foods, salmon and sardines, broccoli, bok choy, silverbeet, cucumber, celery, chickpeas, almonds, dried figs and apricots.

Vitamin D also helps to build and maintain strong bones and assists with calcium absorption. It is made in the skin through exposure to the sun, although this mechanism is compromised in many older Australians. It is also found in fatty fish, such as tuna, mackerel and salmon, and in liver, cheese and egg yolks.

“Their [calcium and vitamin D supplements] use as adjunctive therapy in osteoporosis has been the convention, but … there is little evidence that this alters outcomes,” said Prof. Reid and Assoc. Prof. Bolland.

But for otherwise healthy adults, they said such supplements were a waste of money and that we’re better off focusing on food, sunlight and exercise.

“Supplements have value in overtly deficient individuals, but not across the healthy older population. Based on the consistency of the data, we believe that a recommendation not to provide supplements routinely to healthy older individuals can be judged to be evidence-based … and no longer a matter of controversy,” they wrote.

“In summary, small doses of vitamin D have a place in the prevention of osteomalacia in individuals with specific risk factors. Calcium supplements have very little place in contemporary medical practice.”

The Royal Australian College of GPs (RACGP) says that while calcium and vitamin D supplements have been widely used in an attempt to prevent bone loss and prevent fractures in postmenopausal women and older men, evidence indicates that the absolute benefit is low “and considerably less than that seen with licensed osteoporosis treatments”.

It says: “The target calcium intake from dietary sources and supplements should be 1000mg per day for adults, rising to 1300mg per day for women older than 50 years of age and men older than 70 years of age.

“Vitamin D from sunlight exposure (avoiding periods of high ultraviolet-radiation intensity such as in the middle of the day) and supplements should ensure 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OH D) levels >50 nmol/L. If vitamin D supplements are required, a dose of 800–1000 IU per day is usually sufficient, although higher doses are needed in some people to achieve target levels. Dietary calcium intake is often suboptimal in the elderly, especially institutionalised individuals.”

Have you been regularly taking vitamin D and calcium supplements? Will you now check with your doctor as to whether you should still take these products?

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    Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.





    COMMENTS

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    tisme
    21st Nov 2019
    11:11am
    i was low on vit d as i cant get to much sunllight due to medications yet what i was getting my skin wasnt absorbing, so im on vit d and up came my vit d levels are stable. calcium the same i eat vegies etc but doesnt work. calD and im ok
    Blossom
    3rd Dec 2019
    9:42pm
    I have a similar issue and because I have a hiatus hernia after having GERD for a few years I have trouble digesting some of the fruit and vegetables that contain Calcium or Vitamin D. Also some medication I had to take for a few years before they found a good alternative was provided to leech vitamins and minerals from bones.....and teeth. I had thin bones which through taking the Calcium and Vitamin D have not deteriorated as fast as they were. I also rarely suffer lower back pain too. My Calcium and Vitamin D were prescribed - not just bought off a shelf at random like so many people do.
    Blossom
    3rd Dec 2019
    9:42pm
    I have a similar issue and because I have a hiatus hernia after having GERD for a few years I have trouble digesting some of the fruit and vegetables that contain Calcium or Vitamin D. Also some medication I had to take for a few years before they found a good alternative was provided to leech vitamins and minerals from bones.....and teeth. I had thin bones which through taking the Calcium and Vitamin D have not deteriorated as fast as they were. I also rarely suffer lower back pain too. My Calcium and Vitamin D were prescribed - not just bought off a shelf at random like so many people do.
    turtle
    21st Nov 2019
    11:12am
    So why did my doctor tell me to take Vit D pills.
    KSS
    21st Nov 2019
    1:28pm
    Maybe because you are defficient.
    Jennie
    21st Nov 2019
    12:27pm
    What's missing in this article is the danger of taking osteoporosis treatments such as Fosemax and Prolia:
    Side effects of Prolia
    low calcium levels (especially if you have kidney problems),
    weakness,
    constipation,
    back pain,
    muscle pain,
    pain in your arms and legs,
    anemia,
    diarrhea, or
    skin problems (eczema, blisters, dry skin, peeling, redness, itching, small bumps).

    You may also be more likely to get a serious infection, such as a skin, ear, stomach/gut, or bladder infection while taking Prolia.

    Side effects of Fosemax:
    Esophagus problems: Fosamax can cause irritation, inflammation, or ulcers of the esophagus which may sometimes bleed.

    If you get chest pain, new or worsening heartburn, or have trouble or pain when you swallow, immediately stop taking Fosamax and call your doctor.

    Low calcium levels in your blood (hypocalcemia): Since Fosamax can cause low calcium levels, if you have low blood calcium before you start taking Fosamax, it may get worse during treatment and must be treated before you take Fosamax.

    Symptoms of low blood calcium include, spasms; twitches or cramps in your muscles; and numbness or tingling in your fingers, toes, or around your mouth.
    Bone, joint, or muscle pain: Fosamax can cause severe bone, joint, or muscle pain.

    Severe jaw bone problems (osteonecrosis): Before taking Fosamax, your doctor, and possibly dentist, will examine your mouth.

    Fosamax can cause jawbone tissue to break down, exposing the bone and possibly leading to infections, gum lesions and loosened teeth.

    Unusual thigh bone fractures: Fosamax can cause fractures in thigh bones. Symptoms of a fracture may include new or unusual pain in your hip, groin, or thigh.

    Note that the very thing Fosemax is suppose to prevent, namely bone fractures, can actually cause a fracture of the femur!!
    Jennie
    21st Nov 2019
    12:29pm
    My mother took Fosemax. She still broke a cervical vertebra and head of femur.
    A friend took Fosemax and got an oesophageal ulcer.
    ray @ Bondi
    21st Nov 2019
    4:36pm
    my wife was on Fosamax for years, then her femur snapped in two, breaking like the stem of a wine glass, a typical Fosamax fracture we are told and they say these medications are good for you??
    Mac
    21st Nov 2019
    12:55pm
    My cousin took Fosemax and broke her femur some years ago.

    Also makes you wonder what other supplements are unnecessary. I take some and cut them out if they make no difference to my osteo arthritis. Besides they are very expensive. A visit to the chemist every fortnight leaves my purse a lot lighter. So I have decided to cut them altogether. The cost of living is expensive enough.
    KSS
    21st Nov 2019
    1:30pm
    Supplements are only ever of use IF there is a nutritional defficiency. If not then you are just throwing money down the toilet!
    musicveg
    21st Nov 2019
    1:27pm
    I avoid taking calcium they are dangerous and even though have thought about taking Vitamin D during winter, I started eating mushrooms again. I do believe that the tests are often not accurate, I have heard of men working outdoors all day still showing low vitamin D. We never worried about these thing in the past and unless you have signs of Vitamin D deficiency like rickets than why worry. Save your money and eat more wholefoods,fresh food and not dead processed junk.
    KSS
    21st Nov 2019
    1:32pm
    Expose your mushrooms to sunlight (e.g. on a windowsil) for 20 mins before eating and they increase in Vitamin D.

    Working outside all day can easily result in low vitamin D levels especially when proper use of sunscreen is employed or the arms, legs and torso are covered.
    musicveg
    21st Nov 2019
    1:35pm
    Thanks for the reminder about the mushrooms, I did read that somewhere. And true the workers often do cover themselves up, I also heard many surfers who are out in summer without wetsuits still show up with low D, maybe they are not absorbing it.
    KSS
    21st Nov 2019
    1:56pm
    You don't absorb vitamin D from the sun. The sun promotes the synthesis of cholesterol to vitamin D in the body.
    Surfers are covered up mostly and wear sunscreen hence the low vitamin D. By blocking the sun's UVB, it prevents that conversion.
    Ok
    21st Nov 2019
    1:46pm
    The supplement industry found a great way to help people to get rid of their money. People get rid of their money, the industry gets rid of their toxic chemicals.
    Ted Wards
    21st Nov 2019
    2:04pm
    Well here's the real truth, dairy actually leaches calcium and minerals from your bones and causes osteoarthritis and all other arthritis. Its actually eating processed food that is the issue and is the cause of most of our illnesses. You only have to a google search on what dairy and meats do to your body!
    Ted Wards
    21st Nov 2019
    2:07pm
    https://drhyman.com/blog/2010/06/24/dairy-6-reasons-you-should-avoid-it-at-all-costs-2/
    musicveg
    21st Nov 2019
    2:07pm
    True, I read this heaps of times, and also the lack of nutrients from not eating a good fresh wholefood diet, and lots of fresh dark leafy greens. There is strong evidence in research that shows those who eat more dairy especially milk have higher incidents of osteo, cancer and other diseases. Most people are consuming way too much especially as you get older they should cut out or cut down animal proteins.
    musicveg
    21st Nov 2019
    2:16pm
    Also heaps of info at nutritional facts. org, here is one: https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/dairy/
    Ok
    21st Nov 2019
    2:30pm
    Vegans MUST take supplements. Meat helps to overcome most nutrient deficiencies
    musicveg
    21st Nov 2019
    2:48pm
    Ok I am on a plant based diet, not vegan because I have honey, I do not take supplements and have never had any issues. Meat eaters can often have just as much chance of being nutritional deficient. As long as you do not rely on processed vegan junk and eat fresh and wholefood, with a lot of variety.
    sandyfaye
    21st Nov 2019
    5:08pm
    My doctor recommends that I take calcium and vit. D supplements.
    Lookfar
    21st Nov 2019
    6:00pm
    The imortant thing is that the calcium balance in the blood must be OK, - this is done by the hypothalamus, but it needs enough Borax in your diet or supplements. Borax defficiency is widespread, due to damage to the underground biology from artificial fertilisers etc.
    Borax is a trace element, you don't need much, 5mg/day, and when the balance in your bloodstream is fine you will either gain calcium, as required in Osteoporosis, or lose Calcium as in more common Arthritus.
    You have to take it every day, but every day your body will heal, - gradually the balance will remove or apply the calcium to what it should be.
    I find each day is better, maybe a little bit or big, but each day is better. !
    jaycee1
    22nd Nov 2019
    9:45am
    Lookfar, have heard that as well.
    How do you take your Borax and any particular brand?
    GeorgeM
    21st Nov 2019
    9:02pm
    This is a very confused article, with Vit D mentioned frequently as part of the supposed "waste of money" while all the criticism is about Calcium in the article. It has been known for decades that Calcium supplements can lead to kidney stones, so what's new! It has always been recommended that IF you need Calcium supplements (per doctor's advice) then plenty of water needs to be consumed.

    On the other hand, Vit D is very useful on it's own for helping calcium absorption to help maintain strong bones (besides other benefits) as you get older, however to avoid calcium depositing on the arteries, etc, it is recommended to have Vit K2 as well with Vit D to direct calcium to the bones. The latter information is also missing from this highly biased and limited article.Hopefully this article will not stop anyone from using Vit D.
    Bridgit
    22nd Nov 2019
    11:35am
    Yes George
    My husband and I are on Vit D3 plus Vit K2 together in the morning and Magnesium at night after dinner - we don't have calcium we have a 300ml glass of homemade Iced Coffee with the Magnesium. These supplements work together - my husband has Parkinson and was depressed - nether of us are depressed - quiet the opposite we feel great and the cramps he gets with Parkinsons have reduced.
    We also take Mega B Complex - we were both low in Vit D and now our levels are back up where they should be and our interest and motivation is back and my husbands colour is normal and healthy again!
    I am always concerned when I see articles that do not say it is Vit D3 that you must take with Vit K2 and Magnesium as they work together to keep calcium out of your arteries and into your bones. I know people whom their Dr has put them on the wrong Vit D - I do wish they would be more aware and it wouldn't surprise me if that is why people get into trouble!
    GeorgeM
    22nd Nov 2019
    11:55am
    Spot on, Bridgit. Somehow most GPs don't want to educate people or don't care for supplements anyway.
    musicveg
    22nd Nov 2019
    2:19pm
    Most doctors have very little education in nutrition, only diagnosis and prescribing pharmaceuticals.
    I also think supplements depend on quality, brand and type and whether you actually absorb it or it goes straight through, some people's digestion does not work well enough so there can be other issues at play.
    jaycee1
    22nd Nov 2019
    9:46am
    It is just a money spinning exercise
    Lookfar
    22nd Nov 2019
    1:57pm
    I was diagnosed as severe right hip Osteo Arthritis a year ago, I have advocated taking Borax, as that is an essential micronutrient for the Hypothalamus to be able to control the calcium balance in the blood, yet I did not take my own advice until I was confronted with the medical diagnosis, last Christmas, at which time i could hardly walk without clutching at the furniture, and in high pain.
    Well, 11 months later I can run, I can bushwalk, I can walk for hours without pain or other effects, - sure I prefer to walk up stairs using the not so affected hip to lift me, - why force the weaker joint? just let it recover as your calcium balance In The Blood, - not in your intake, (The Hypothalamus regulates the Balance, it won't put an iota more of calcium in the blood than needed, even if you pickle your body in Calcium.
    Think about it, you have spent many years destroying your joints through calcium imbalance to one side or another, as Borax is highly deficient in modern soils, - so once you start taking your 5mg/day, (better to start a bit higher until you find your bowels are a bit liquid, then reduce to 5) you are just reversing a process that probably took years to happen, so will take a while to reverse.
    I found immediate result in a few weeks, but it takes a long time to remove extra calcium plaques or rebuild deficient bone in your joints, - it is best to take it easy, as it took a long time to go bad.
    A major problem is that Artificial fertilisers destroy the biology in the soil, and it is only the biology in the soil that can extract the borax and bring it to the plant, and most of our farmers use them.
    If you don't believe me then take your last supermarket derived dinner to an Accreditated Bio analysist, specifying Borax content.
    Whatever, Borax is cheap as chips, it is essential in agriculture as plants get fatally sick if not enough borax, so farmers spray it on the leaves, by-passing the root biology altogether, so what next deficiency will we find? Hollow stems is often Borax deficiency.
    But remember, Borax is a micronutrient, - it is a salt, and like Table salt, defined as a Poison, L 50, same same, so dont go gulping great cupfulls of it, - once you have stabilised, back to the 5mg per day, - I lick the end of my finger, press into the borax powder and put in my mouth, follow by water.
    The next biggy is Magnesium, once you have stabilised your Borax, (must take Every day) if further problems, likely it is magnesium, - found amongst others in Old Gold, ie Dark chocolate, - actually it is in the cocoa, so the higher percentage the better but hey, how nice to find chocolate to help your aching limbs?
    Thing is, the Borax allows your Body to stabilise the Calcium, taking more or less calcium is irrelevant, unless you don't have enough.
    Of course there are many more exotic diseases, but it is interesting that 80% of Australians are deficient in Borax, according to some surveys or another, yet most people eat vegetables grown in Artificial fertilizer, which destroys the underground Biology, which is necessary to get the Borax, as only the very fine Mycelium, eg Mychorrizhal Fungus can get into the grains of the soil., plant roots are too course. see v=x2H60ritjaghttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2H60ritjaghttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2H60ritjag Hopefully you can see this video, because you will be richer in understanding, the which is what we old people all need to be to guide the current Old Testament maniacs in Govt.
    musicveg
    22nd Nov 2019
    2:23pm
    Wouldn't be easier and safer just to eat organic and/or home grown veggies, fruits and even weeds that are high in nutrients? I worry about putting a possible poison into your body.
    Bundabergian
    24th Nov 2019
    12:56pm
    Do you use just normal Borax like you buy for cleaning?
    Lookfar
    25th Nov 2019
    1:26pm
    Yes the Borax you buy for cleaning or for spraying on plants is fine, it lists the ingredients on the packet, - 'cleaning' Borax is 99% pure, it is what most people use.

    Musicveg, organic vegies are fine if growers have tested their soil for the Micro-organisms, as suggested in the video I included.
    Borax is slightly less poisonous than Table-salt, too much water will kill you, it is a question of being sensible.
    Jennie
    25th Nov 2019
    1:42pm
    The problem is that no fruit and vegetables can be purely organic as there is run off from neighboring farms and poisons in the aquifers.
    musicveg
    25th Nov 2019
    9:41pm
    Yes but I still prefer to minimize my chemical and GMO intake. I would think if you grow your own and keep adding home made compost it would create the micro-organisms needed, though I am no scientist I still believe home grown is the healthiest as long as you don't grow near a road or a farm that uses chemicals.
    Jennie
    25th Nov 2019
    10:12pm
    Agreed but I live in an apartment with no garden.
    musicveg
    25th Nov 2019
    10:43pm
    Maybe try to find a community garden that you can join.Or there is a thing called the Urbipod for indoor growing or can grow a few things in pots if you have room near a window or balcony.


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