Calcium, Flawed Studies And The Actual Benefits
|Calcium, Magnesium And Vitamin D||Darrell Miller||06/24/09|
June 24, 2009 12:14 PM
Author: Darrell Miller (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: Calcium, Magnesium And Vitamin D
In February 2006, the findings of an $18 million double-blind placebo-controlled study were published in the New England Journal of Medicine. This study was conducted by the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) and was on the protective effect of calcium and vitamin D. The New York Times reported on this study, declaring that the study found that there were no clear benefits to calcium pills. In this article, the fact that the women who stuck to their supplementation regime experienced 29% reduction in hip fractures was dismissed. This result is rarely achieved, even with use of the strongest pharmaceuticals.
This study was designed to determine whether postmenopausal women who were given calcium and vitamin D would have a lower risk of hip fracture. The intervention group was given 1,000 mg each day of calcium carbonate, along with 400 IU of vitamin D. Although these women portrayed a greater preservation of hipbone density, the decrease in risk of fracture of 12% was not significant as a whole. The fact that many of the women who were included in the study were under sixty, and therefore, not typically at risk for fractures, causes these results to be unsurprising.
The results that were found were also skewed as a result of the fact that compliance with the prescribed daily intake was only 59% by the end of the study. 41% of the study participants had fully stopped taking the prescribed daily dosage of calcium and vitamin D, with 24% having discontinued the supplementation altogether. With such an unexpectedly low compliance rate, along with the fact that the projected hip fracture rate was over twice what was actually observed, the power of the study was reduce to only 48%. As a result, the trial had less chance than a simple flip of a coin to find anything but the largest of differences in a risk for fracture.
Despite these shortcomings, the researchers looked at the subgroups, and found different pictures emerging. Looking only at the women who mostly stuck to their prescribed regime, researchers found that a reduction in fractures of 29% was experienced. Additionally, those women over sixty experienced a reduction in the risk of fracture of 21%. These results are actually remarkable, especially after considering the many problems which clouded the accuracy of the data. Unfortunately, reporters did not look at these findings, causing a slanted account of the study to be published. Because of this, the media failed to acknowledge what were actually significant findings.
Additionally, the design of the WHI study disregarded the fact that a reduction of fracture risk is actually dependent on several factors other than calcium. Studies have actually shown that magnesium is also of equal important in the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis, as a deficiency plays a central role in the development of the disease. Postmenopausal women and those women with osteoporosis usually have low bone-magnesium content, exhibiting other indicators of magnesium deficiency that are not seen in non-osteoporotic women. Also, calcium competes for absorption with magnesium, meaning that postmenopausal women who increase calcium intake without also increasing magnesium intake can impair their absorption of magnesium. With this knowledge, the failure of the researchers to include magnesium supplementation along with calcium and vitamin D caused the potential for a study that could cause harm on the patients. With the results as they are how can we trust studies that are conducted when the patients who participate do not follow the rules? For those who want to prevent osteoporosis, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D when taken together can help slow and prevent the onset of brittle bones.
Calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D come in capsule, tablet, and liquid softgel forms at your local or internet health food store. Always look for a name brand calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D supplement to ensure quality and purity of the product you purchase.