Photo of an older woman swimming
The vitamin D and calcium combo has a health benefit for seniors that goes beyond reducing the rate of fractures

Vitamin D/calcium supplementation could help extend life

19 June, 2012

Natural Health News — Vitamin D, when taken with calcium, can reduce the rate of mortality in seniors and may, say researchers, be one possible way of increasing life expectancy.

During the last decade, there has been increasing recognition of the potential positive health effects of vitamin D. It is well known, for instance, that calcium with vitamin D supplements reduces the risk of fractures.

The present study assessed mortality among patients randomised to a group taking either vitamin D alone or vitamin D with calcium. The findings from the study found that the reduced mortality was not due to a lower number of fractures, but represents a beneficial 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 published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (JCEM) researchers used pooled data from eight randomized controlled trials with more than 1,000 participants each. The patient data set was composed of nearly 90 percent women, with a median age of 70 years. During the three-year study, 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.”