Bone Density: Calcium Supplements vs Calcium from Dietary Sources

Study Question

Does increasing calcium intake from dietary sources have any effects on bone mineral density and, if it does, are they similar to the effects of calcium supplements?

Summary Answer

Increasing calcium intake, whether from dietary sources or by taking calcium supplements, leads to small (1-2%) non-progressive increases in bone density, without any ongoing reduction in rates of loss of bone denisty beyond one year.

What is Known and What This Paper Adds

Recent concerns about he safety of calcium supplements have led to recommendations to increase calcium intake through food rather than taking supplements, but the effect of this on bone health is not known.

In this meta-analysis of 59 randomised controlled trials, increases in calcium intake, either by dietary sources or supplements, had small non-progressive effects on bone density that are unlikely to translate into clinically meaningful reductions in fractures.


BMJ 2015;351: h4183


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