Calcium supplements can reduce risk of osteoporosis when dietary intake is inadequate

10 March 2015

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10 March 2015 - The Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) said that calcium supplements have a role in preventing osteoporosis when dietary intake is inadequate.

This was in response to the publication of data from the Australian Health Survey, which showed that across all age groups, only one in four females and one in two males met their dietary calcium requirements. Only about 10 per cent of women in the high risk group for osteoporosis - those over 50 years of age - had adequate calcium intake from their diet1.

Steve Scarff, ASMI Director of Regulatory and Scientific Affairs, said: "While a balanced diet should provide calcium needs, calcium supplements can bridge the gap when dietary intake is insufficient to meet nutritional requirements. Calcium supplements play a particularly important role in preventing osteoporosis and osteoporosis-attributed bone fractures 2,3,4,5,6,7.

The Therapeutic Guidelines: Endocrinology state: "Calcium supplementation can reduce the rate of bone loss. Supplementation may also reduce fracture rates. The benefit is most marked in older women with a low dietary calcium intake but without previous fragility fractures. For fracture benefit plasma vitamin D concentration needs to be optimised as well as calcium."8

A recent study found that the relative risk reduction of an osteoporosis-attributed fracture event given the use of calcium and vitamin D at preventive intake levels was 19.7%. The researchers, from Frost and Sullivan, reviewed seven randomised controlled studies that tested for a cause and effect relationship between utilisation of calcium and vitamin D supplements and osteoporosis-attributed bone fractures9.

"Osteoporosis is one of Australia's 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," explained Mr Scarff.

"Australians who are unsure about their calcium intake are encouraged to talk to a healthcare professional, who can provide advice on ways to monitor and if needed, increase calcium levels," he added.

For more information or to arrange a media interview, please contact:
Marie Kelly-Davies
Communications Manager, Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI)
P: 9923 9410 M:0408 256 381 E:


1. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Australian Health Survey 2011-2013.

2. Chapuy, MC., Arlot, ME., Duboeuf, F., Brun, J., Crouzet, B., Arnaud, S., et al., (1992). Vitamin D3 and calcium to prevent hip fractures in the elderly women. N Engl J Med. , 327(23):1637-42.

3. Chapuy, MC., Pamphile, R., Paris, E., Kempf, C., Schlichting, M., Arnaud, S., et al., (2002). Combined calcium and vitamin D3 consumption in elderly women: confirmation of reversal of secondary hyperparathyroidism and hip fracture risk: the Decalyos II study. Osteoporos Int. , 13(3):257-64.

4. Dawson-Hughes, B., Harris, S., Krall, E., & Dallal, G. (1997). Effect of calcium and vitamin D consumption on bone density in men and women 65 years of age or older. N Engl J Med , 337(10):670-6.

5. Grant, A., Avenell, A., Campbell, M., McDonald, A., MacLennan, G., McPherson, G., et al., (2005). Oral vitamin D3 and calcium for secondary prevention of low-trauma fractures in elderly people (Randomised Evaluation of Calcium or vitamin D, RECORD Group): a randomised placebo-controlled trial. Lancet , 365(9471):1621-8.

6. Jackson RD et al., (2006). Women's Health Initiative Investigators: Calcium plus vitamin D consumption and the prevents osteoporotic fractures in elderly community dwelling residents: a pragmatic population-based 3-year intervention study. J Bone Miner Res , 19(3):370-8.

7. Porthouse, J., Cockayne, S., King, C., Saxon, L., Steele, E., Aspray, T., et al., (2005). Randomised controlled trial of calcium and consumption with cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) for prevention of fractures in primary care. BMJ , 330(7498):1003.

8. Endocrinology Expert Group. Therapeutic Guidelines: endocrinology. Version 5. Melbourne. Therapeutic Guidelines Limited; 2014.

9. Shanahan, C and Lorimier,R. Targeted Use of Complementary Medicines: Potential Health Outcomes and Cost Savings in Australia. Frost and Sullivan, October