Endocrine Society study: Vitamin D with calcium improves mortality in elder women

CHEVY CHASE, Md. — A study recently published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism suggests that vitamin D — when taken with calcium — can reduce the rate of mortality in seniors, thereby providing a possible means of increasing life expectancy, the society reported Friday.

The study assessed mortality among patients randomized to either vitamin D alone or vitamin D with calcium. The findings from the study found that the reduced mortality was not due to a lower number of fractures, but represents a beneficial effect beyond the reduced fracture risk.

“This is the largest study ever performed on effects of calcium and vitamin D on mortality,” stated Lars Rejnmark of Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark and lead author of the study. “Our results showed reduced mortality in elderly patients using vitamin D supplements in combination with calcium, but these results were not found in patients on vitamin D alone.”

In this study, researchers used pooled data from eight randomized controlled trials with more than 1,000 participants each. The patient data set was comprised of nearly 90% women, with a median age of 70 years. During the three-year study, death was reduced by 9% in those treated with vitamin D with calcium.

“Some studies have suggested calcium, with or without vitamin D, supplements can have adverse effects on cardiovascular health,” Rejnmark said. “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 article appears in the August 2012 issue of JCEM.


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