Should you take calcium and vitamin D?

March 13, 2013

Late in February, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a scientific-review panel, issued a statement urging caution when taking calcium and vitamin D supplements. The concern? That supplementation may not help prevent fractures, and may also cause kidney stones to develop. Instead, the USPSTF recommended the obvious: getting calcium and vitamin D from a good diet and sunshine exposure.

Of course, not everybody eats a good diet, and folks living farther from the equator don’t always get much direct sun exposure. Nutritionist Marion Nestle wrote up her own take on the panel’s recommendations, comparing them to similar 2011 studies conducted by the Institute of Medicine and the Endocrine Society. She pointed out that the Endocrine Society uses a different gauge of measurement than the IOM, with different criteria for determining whether someone is deficient in vitamin D or not.

So maybe we’re not all so deficient as we’ve been told. Or maybe we are. Either way, Nestle agrees with the USPSTF recommendation: if you’re generally healthy, skip the supplements.

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