Postmenopausal Women Should Avoid Daily Intake of Vitamin D and Calcium Supplements

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently recommended that certain postmenopausal women avoid taking daily low doses of vitamin D and calcium supplements to ward off bone fractures. Low doses were defined as 400 international units (IU) or less of vitamin D and 1000 milligrams or less of calcium.

The task force noted that “no net benefit for the primary prevention of fractures” was found for postmenopausal women taking low dosage amounts. However, evidence did point to a potential increase in the occurrence of kidney stones among postmenopausal women. During a seven-year follow-up period, 1 in 273 women were diagnosed with kidney stones. The low doses were found to do more harm than good for this population of postmenopausal women considered to be noninstitutionalized or community-dwelling asymptomatic adults without a history of fractures.

The task force had previously concluded in a separate recommendation that vitamin D supplementation was effective in preventing falls in community-dwelling adults aged 65 years or older who are at increased risk for falls because of a history of fractures.

The task force also looked at the use of the supplements in men and premenopausal women, but was unable to “assess the balance of the benefits and harms” of using the supplements to prevent fractures in these groups.

The recommendations do not apply to people with osteoporosis or vitamin D deficiencies, the task force said.