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Panel says vitamin D and calcium supplements may not  be as beneficial as once thought

February 28, 2013

Bone health is an important part of senior living, and many older adults turn to calcium and vitamin D supplements to reduce their risk of suffering a fracture. However, new recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force indicate that these low-dose supplements may not offer as many benefits as originally thought, and that seniors, and older women in particular, would be wise to get the nutrients from natural sources, The Associated Press reports. 

The new guidelines may come as a surprise to many seniors who have long been told that the supplements can help them enjoy healthy aging. While these supplements certainly do not have any adverse effects, experts say that there has not been enough research on the subject to fully endorse taking them as means to improve bone health. 

"Regrettably, we don't have as much information as we would like to have about a substance that has been around a long time and we used to think we understood," Dr. Virginia Moyer, the head of the task force, told the AP. "Turns out, there's a lot more to learn."

Although the panel questions the benefits of supplements, that does not diminish the important role that calcium and vitamin D play in a healthy lifestyle for seniors. The two nutrients work together to help maintain bone strength, which is a key component of avoiding falls. 

The good news is that there are a number of other ways for seniors to maintain ideal bone health, and one of the best is through physical activity. According to the Mayo Clinic, regular exercise can not only help prevent conditions such as osteoporosis, but it can manage the symptoms of people who already have it.