During the last decade, there has been increasing recognition of the potential health effects of vitamin D, from building strong bones, to increasing immunity. It is well known that calcium with vitamin D supplements reduces the risk of fractures. The present study looked at mortality among patients randomized to either vitamin D alone or vitamin D with calcium and found that the reduced mortality was not due to a lower number of fractures, but represents a beneficial health effect beyond the reduced fracture risk.
“This is the largest study ever performed on effects of calcium and vitamin D on mortality,” said Lars Rejnmark, PhD, of Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark and lead author of the study. “Our results showed reduced mortality in elderly patients using vitamin D supplements in combination with calcium, but these results were not found in patients on vitamin D alone.”
In this study, researchers used pooled data from eight randomized controlled trials with more than 1,000 participants each. The patient data set was comprised of nearly 90 percent women, with a median age of 70 years. During the three-year study, mortality (death) was reduced by 9 percent in those treated with vitamin D with calcium.
“Some studies have suggested calcium (with or without vitamin D) supplements can have adverse effects on cardiovascular health,” said Rejnmark. “Although our study does not rule out such effects, we found that calcium with vitamin D supplementation to elderly participants is overall not harmful to survival, and may have beneficial effects on general health”.