Wednesday, January 27, 2010 by: S. L. Baker, features writer
(NaturalNews) In recent years, Big Pharma has produced a variety of widely hyped bisphosphonate drugs including alendronate (Fosamax), ibandronate (Boniva), risedronate (Actonel) and zoledronic acid (Reclast) that are aimed at preserving bone mass and reducing the risk of fractures. Unfortunately, as NaturalNews has reported, the more these medications are pushed on patients, the more serious side effects are being reported, from dangerous heart arrhythmias (http://www.naturalnews.com/026027_d...) to dental problems, esophageal ulcers, abdominal pain and severe damage to the jaw bone. But a new study involving almost 70,000 people from throughout the U.S. and Europe shows that nutrients -- calcium and vitamin D taken together -- offer a natural, side effect-free way to prevent fractures.
Because broken bones are a major cause of disability and loss of independence for elders, these findings are of particular interest to older people. In fact, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), fall-related injuries are the leading cause of accidental death among Americans age 65 and older. However, fractures can be serious at any age, causing pain, sometimes necessitating surgery and almost always restricting activities.
Good news: the researchers found it isn't only the aged whose bones benefit from taking calcium and vitamin D. Remarkably, they found the supplements reduced fractures in everyone -- the young and old, women and men, and even people who had already sustained fractured bones in the past.
The study, published in the January issue of the British Medical Journal, involved an international team of scientists headed by researchers from Copenhagen University in Denmark. They assessed the results of seven large clinical trials from around the world to document whether vitamin D alone or with calcium was effective in reducing fractures.
One of the most important trials included in the new investigation was a long term study conducted at the University of California at Davis (UC Davis) in Sacramento as part of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI). This 15 year long national program was designed to study the effect of calcium and vitamin D supplements in preventing hip, spine and other types of fractures.
"What is important about this very large study is that it goes a long way toward resolving conflicting evidence about the role of vitamin D, either alone or in combination with calcium, in reducing fractures," John Robbins, professor of internal medicine at UC Davis and a co-author of the journal article, said in a statement to the media. "Our WHI research in Sacramento included more than 1,000 healthy, postmenopausal women and concluded that taking calcium and vitamin D together helped them preserve bone health and prevent fractures. This latest analysis, because it incorporates so many more people, really confirms our earlier conclusions."
Bottom line: the researchers concluded that it is the combination of calcium and vitamin D, rather than vitamin D alone, that is most effective in reducing a variety of fractures. "Interestingly, this combination of supplements benefits both women and men of all ages, which is not something we fully expected to find," Dr. Robbins stated. "We now need to investigate the best dosage, duration and optimal way for people to take it."