ASMI supports a preventative approach to osteoporosis

27 February 2013

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The Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) is concerned that recommendations on vitamin D and calcium from the US Preventive Services Task Force [1] may confuse consumers on the very important role of these vital nutrients in building and maintaining bone health.

According to ASMI Regulatory and Scientific Affairs Director, Steven Scarff, there is a risk that the recommendations may unnecessarily prompt consumers to change their supplementation habits.

"Osteoporosis is one of our most debilitating and costly health problems, with approximately 1.2 million Australians affected. Because fracture risk increases with age, postmenopausal women and older individuals need to maintain good bone health through appropriate levels of physical activity and adequate calcium intake and vitamin D levels. For people who aren't obtaining adequate calcium or vitamin D from natural sources, supplementation is known to be a highly effective way to fill the gap.

"ASMI believes a preventative approach to osteoporosis, particularly around the age of 50 when bone mineral loss begins to accelerate, is supported by a strong body of evidence. [2,3]

"The Taskforce's brief was to examine only a small subset of the literature and they were unable to provide conclusions except that less than 400IU vitamin D and less than 1000mg calcium appeared insufficient for postmenopausal women to gain benefit. Importantly, the Taskforce stressed that their conclusions had to be weighed against the needs of the individual." 

A 2007 Australian study published in The Lancet found that calcium, and calcium in combination with Vitamin D, was associated with a 12% reduction in fractures of all types including hip, vertebrae and wrist. [3] In instances where there was a higher compliance rate, the treatment was associated with a much higher 24% reduction in fractures. [3]

Australians who are unsure about their calcium and vitamin D intake are encouraged to talk to a qualified healthcare professional who can provide advice on building and maintaining good bone health.

1.    Moyer V. on behalf of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.  Vitamin D and Calcium Supplementation to Prevent Fractures in Adults: U.S. Preventive Services Task  Force Recommendation Statement. Annals of Internal Medicine 2013.
2.    Osteoporosis Australia. Building healthy bones throughout life. MJA. Vol. 2. Supplement 1. 4 February 2013.
3.    Tang BM, Eslick GD, Nowson C, Smith C, Bensoussan A. Use of calcium or calcium in combination with vitamin D supplementation to prevent fractures and bone loss in people aged 50 years and older: a meta-analysis. Lancet. 2007 Aug 25;370(9588):657-66.