Fade When Elders Cease Supplements
By Judy McBride
January 24, 2001
Do seniors maintain strong bones
after they stop taking calcium and vitamin D supplements? Researchers asked
this question after showing that men and women over 65 who took extra calcium
and vitamin D daily for three years either gained or retained bone throughout
the body and specifically in the spine and hip--two areas prone to fracture in
The results showed that the gains from taking the supplements didnt
last. Two years after the volunteers stopped taking the required 500 milligrams
of calcium and 700 International Units of vitamin D daily, they had lost any
supplement-related benefits to the spine and hip.
Both the original and follow-up studies were conducted at the
Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research
Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston. The center is funded by the
Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the
U.S. Department of Agricultures chief
Fewer than one in 10 U.S. elders meet the current recommendations for
calcium and vitamin D. These are set at a total daily intake of 1,200
milligrams of calcium from food and supplements and 400 to 600 I.U. of vitamin
Of the 389 volunteers in the original study, 295 remained in the two-year
follow-up, returning to the center once a year for bone measurements and other
tests. They no longer took calcium and vitamin D provided by the
study--although they were allowed to take their own supplements, according to
researcher Beth Dawson-Hughes.
An article on the research appears in the January issue of Agricultural Research magazine.
Scientific contact: Bess Dawson-Hughes, Jean Mayer USDA Human
Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, Mass., phone
(617) 556-3064, fax (617) 556-3305, Hughesb@hnrc.tufts.edu.