1-Minute Consult: Can Calcium and Vitamin D Supplementation Adequately Treat Most Patients With Osteoporosis?

Metabolic bone disease expert weighs evidence

In short, no. Although calcium and vitamin D play an important role, they are not sufficient when used alone. Rather, they should be used in combination with an antiresportive agent such as estrogen, raloxifene, alendronate, risedronate or calcitonin.

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In almost all randomized controlled trials of antiresorptive agents, the control groups took calcium and vitamin D supplements. In these trials, patients who took alendronate, risedronate or raloxifene had significantly fewer fractures than those who took calcium and vitamin D alone. Thus, we conclude that supplements alone are not adequate.

Still, calcium and vitamin D are important in treating age-related bone loss, as they reduce the rate of bone loss and possibly reduce fracture risk.

To read the full in-depth answer to this question by Chad Deal, MD, Head of the Center for Osteoporosis and Metabolic Bone Disease, visit Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. Dr. Deal reviews the use of biologics to treat metabolic bone disease here.