Written by Dr. Dave Hnida, CBS4 Medical EditorNew recommendations from the US Preventive Services Task Force that say all those calcium and vitamin D pills you’ve been gobbling are a waste of time have caused a lot of folks to take a quick inventory of their medicine chests. Has the sacred advice we’ve gotten over the years about these two substances been way off the mark?

Not really. I took a hard look at the report, and it simply didn’t have enough meat to make me change what I recommend to people, especially women post-menopause.

The task force says the research to this date has been inconclusive, and taking extra calcium may up your risk of kidney stones. But that’s it. Therefore, since we can’t prove it works, then its a waste.

But I think you need to look at it through a different lens.

My beliefs:

Calcium is more important before menopause, especially the younger you are and you are still adding to your bone thickness. After menopause, calcium supplements are a drop in the bucket compared to what you take in before you go through the change of life. But it doesn’t mean they’re worthless.

The kidney stone deal is there, but we really don’t know who is prone to stones from too much calcium — it’s a lot of more complicated than that.

Any link to calcium to heart disease is weak, at most. Just not on the same scale as smoking, high BP, high cholesterol, coach-potato-itis, etc.

The best source of calcium is diet. It you can’t hit 1000-1200 mg per day, then the supplements may be of help. Dont go over that 1200 mark – that’s a gray zone of health vs. problems.

The best way to build bone is exercise. All of the calcium in the world won’t build bone mass if you’re a TV addict.

As for Vitamin D, sure it’s the rage now. But the report says it’s a waste. Whats the truth? Probably somewhere in between. Get a little sunshine, eat or drink foods rich in D, and if you take calcium, make sure it has D to help to calcium absorb.

Bottom line, the task force is doing its best to give us the latest collection of info — but it’s not the final word. A lot of research yet to be done. Dont throw away your supplements just yet.


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