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The place of calcium supplementation, with or without concomitant vitamin D supplementation, has been much debated in terms of both efficacy and safety. There have been numerous trials and meta-analyses of supplementation for fracture reduction, and associations with risk of myocardial infarction have been suggested in recent years. In this report, the product of an expert consensus meeting of the European Society for Clinical and Economic Aspects of Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases (ESCEO) and the International Foundation for Osteoporosis (IOF), we review the evidence for the value of calcium supplementation, with or without vitamin D supplementation, for healthy musculoskeletal ageing. We conclude that (1) calcium and vitamin D supplementation leads to a modest reduction in fracture risk, although population-level intervention has not been shown to be an effective public health strategy; (2) supplementation with calcium alone for fracture reduction is not supported by the literature; (3) side effects of calcium supplementation include renal stones and gastrointestinal symptoms; (4) vitamin D supplementation, rather than calcium supplementation, may reduce falls risk; and (5) assertions of increased cardiovascular risk consequent to calcium supplementation are not convincingly supported by current evidence. In conclusion, we recommend, on the basis of the current evidence, that calcium supplementation, with concomitant vitamin D supplementation, is supported for patients at high risk of calcium and vitamin D insufficiency, and in those who are receiving treatment for osteoporosis.


Institute for Health and Ageing

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Journal Article

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