World Osteoporosis Day: Calcium and vitamin D for bone health

20 October 2015

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The Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) said today's World Osteoporosis Day shines the spotlight on calcium and vitamin D and the vital role they play in preventing osteoporosis. 

Steve Scarff, ASMI Regulatory and Scientific Affairs Director, said: "There is a substantial body of research that demonstrates vitamin D, in combination with calcium, can reduce the risk of osteoporosis and is of benefit in preventing osteoporosis-attributed fractures1,2,3,4,5,6,7.

"Vitamin D is essential for the body to absorb calcium effectively, which is important for bone health and muscle function and for preventing conditions such as osteoporosis. Sufficient vitamin D intake is particularly important in low-light conditions, as the body's ability to synthesise the compound is dependent on exposure to sunlight8.

"Older adults are recommended to have at least 10 to 15 micrograms of vitamin D per day in their diet. However, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, nearly a quarter of Australians, or one in four people, have a vitamin D deficiency9,10.

"The 2011-13 Australian Health Survey found that one in twenty people used a vitamin D supplement and that vitamin D deficiency was much lower in those who took a supplement. For people who aren't obtaining adequate vitamin D from natural sources such as sunlight, supplementation is a highly effective way to fill the gap10.

The Australian Therapeutic Guidelines: Endocrinologystate: "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 calcium11,"he added.

A recent study by Frost and Sullivan reviewed seven randomised controlled studies that tested for a cause and effect relationship between utilisation of vitamin D and calcium supplements and osteoporosis-attributed bone fractures. The study found that the relative risk reduction of an osteoporosis-attributed fracture event given the use of vitamin D and calcium at preventive intake levels was 19.7% 12.

"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 ways to monitor and if needed, increase calcium and vitamin D levels," concluded Mr Scarff. 



  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Avenell A, Mak JCS, O'Connell D. Vitamin D and vitamin D an analogues for preventing fractures in post-menopausal women and older men (Review), Cochrane Collaboration, 2014.
  8. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre, About Herbs, Botanicals & Other Products - Integrative Medicine. January 2013.
  9. NHMRC. Nutrient Reference Value - Australia and New Zealand.
  10. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Australian Health Survey: Biomedical Results for Nutrients, 2011-12. 15/4/14.
  11. Endocrinology Expert Group. Therapeutic Guidelines: Endocrinology. Version 5. Melbourne. Therapeutic Guidelines Limited; 2014.
  12. Shanahan, C and Lorimier,R. Targeted Use of Complementary Medicines: Potential Health Outcomes and Cost Savings in Australia. Frost and Sullivan, October 2014.



For more information or to arrange a media interview, please contact:

Marie Kelly-Davies

Communications Manager, Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI)

9923 9410  0408 256 381    E: