By NOF; Tuesday, February 26, 2013

NOF Responds to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendations on Calcium and Vitamin D

Despite Recent Studies, Calcium and Vitamin D Remain Important Nutrients for Overall Bone Health

WASHINGTON, DC (February 26, 2013) — In response to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force’s (USPSTF) recommendation stating that there is insufficient evidence to assess the balance of benefits and harms of calcium and vitamin D supplementation for the primary prevention of fractures, the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) reminds the public that both nutrients are an important part of bone health management.

“The USPSTF’s conclusions that 1,000 milligrams (mg) a day of calcium and 400 International Units (IU) of vitamin D do not prevent fractures in healthy women are not surprising. We understand that calcium and vitamin D play a critical role, but are not enough alone to prevent fractures. High risk women also need medication to prevent fracture,” said Robert Recker, M.D., NOF President. “We also know that osteoporosis medications don't work without calcium and vitamin D, and are concerned that the release of the USPSTF recommendations will lead to more individuals not getting sufficient amounts of these nutrients and an increase in broken bones.”

In light of the USPSTF recommendations and other recent studies looking at the risks and benefits of calcium and vitamin D, NOF reminds the public of the following three steps for bone health:

  1. Aim to get the recommended daily amount of calcium you need from food first and supplement only as needed to make up for any shortfall. Vitamin D is harder to get from food, so you may need to take a supplement to get the recommended amount of vitamin D.
  2. Maintain an overall healthy lifestyle by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, exercising and not smoking or drinking too much alcohol.
  3. If you are diagnosed with osteoporosis, work with your healthcare provider to determine an appropriate treatment plan that includes medication, calcium and vitamin D. Follow your plan and consult with your healthcare provider before deciding to stop taking your supplements or medication. 

NOF recommends that women under age 50 get 1,000 mg of calcium from all sources daily and that women age 50 and older get 1,200 mg.  For men, NOF recommends 1,000 mg of calcium daily for those age 70 and younger and 1,200 mg for men age 71 and older. For adults under age 50, NOF recommends 400-800 IU of vitamin D and 800-1,000 IU for adults age 50 and older.

“Everyone needs to get the recommended daily amount of calcium and vitamin D to enjoy good overall health and especially bone health,” Recker said. “My concern is that the media’s coverage of the USPTF recommendations is not balanced with the important benefits of these nutrients and may lead individuals to stop taking the needed amount of calcium or vitamin D without consulting with their healthcare provider.”

NOF strongly urges all individuals to get the recommended amounts of calcium and vitamin D to protect their bone health. Talk to your healthcare provider about your individual needs for calcium and vitamin D and never stop taking your supplements without checking with your doctor first.

To learn more, please visit NOF’s website: Calcium and Vitamin D: What You Need to Know.


About the National Osteoporosis Foundation

Established in 1984, the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) is the leading health organization dedicated to preventing osteoporosis and broken bones, promoting strong bones for life and reducing human suffering through programs of public and clinician awareness, education, advocacy and research. For more information about the National Osteoporosis Foundation, visit

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This article from the February issue of the Tufts Nutrition Newsletter details the recent Swedish study linking higher milk consumption with negative health outcomes, pointing out that the takeaway message on milk is hard to determine at this point given that the researchers cautioned against making sweeping dietary changes based on their findings.