Postmenopausal women should take calcium and vitamin D supplements
It is known that vitamin D and calcium are essential to have healthy and strong bones. Paediatricians encourage mothers to supplement children’s diet with calcium and vitamin D to prevent rickets, which can leave serious consequences in children. If vitamin D and calcium deficiency leads to rickets in children, in adults it can lead to osteoporosis, which mean that the bone are prone to fractures. However there is debate whether postmenopausal women should take vitamin D and calcium supplements to maintain healthy bones. Although there are many recommendations, an analysis made by the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) has shown that menopausal women should take supplements of vitamin D and calcium, at least those who are under hormone therapy.
The conclusion that women who take hormone therapy should also receive vitamin D and calcium supplements, was drawn from a study that included almost 30,000 postmenopausal women. Approximately 8,000 women were treated with calcium (1,000 mg / day) and vitamin D (400 mg / day) and as many received placebo treatment. Menopausal women included in the study were under hormone therapy, that is estrogen and progesterone, estrogen only or placebo. What investigators looked for was the rate of hip fractures in the group of women who took hormones and calcium supplements compared with the group who only took hormones (without supplements ) and the group who took no hormones and no supplements.
It seems that treatment with hormones and supplements of calcium and vitamin D had a synergistic effect as it was showed that women who took both estrogen (and or progesterone) and calcium and vitamin D supplements had a lower rate of hip fracture than women who took a single treatment. Single treatment with calcium and vitamin D was not better then taking no supplements or no hormones.
It was also demonstrated that treatment benefit was stronger in the group of women who received a total calcium intake (diet plus supplements) greater than 1,200 mg / day. Also, the benefit was stronger in women who had a higher intake of vitamin D. However, the researchers could not determine the individual benefit of each of them (calcium and vitamin D) because they were given together.
The rate of hip fracture among women taking combination therapy (hormones and vitamin D supplementation) were 11 fractures in 10,000 women per year, in those taking just hormones or just supplements was 18, respectively 25/10, 000 women per year, and among women who received no therapy was 22/10000 women per year.