Maintaining bone health – recommendations for Calcium and Vitamin D3 supplementation

Calcium and Vitamin D are both important for keeping bones healthy. Calcium is needed by the body every day, and if not enough is taken in, then calcium is lost from the bones. Meanwhile, in order to absorb calcium effectively, the body needs Vitamin D3. So these two nutrients are both necessary, on a very regular basis, for the long-term maintenance of bone health and the prevention of such conditions as osteopenia and osteoporosis.

Recently, there has also been a lot of research and discussion about the optimum intake of Vitamin D3 to maintain bone health. Many investigators now believe that a minimum of 700 to 800 IU of vitamin D3 per day is needed by adults. This is approximately double the daily intake of 400mg that was commonly recommended in the past.

Other lines of recent research have pointed to supplementation with calcium and Vitamin D3 as having benefits in reducing risk of cancer in some populations; and there is also much study now being devoted to Vitamin D3’s role in the health of the immune system. So the old “sunshine vitamin” is definitely one to watch!


Vieth R, Bischoff-Ferrari H, Boucher BJ, et al. The urgent need to recommend an intake of vitamin D that is effective. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2007 Mar;85:649-50.

Lappe JM, Travers-Gustafson D, Davies KM, et al. Vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk: results of a randomized trial. AmericanJournal of Clinical Nutrition 2007 Jun;85(6):1586-91.

For special concerns regarding HIV and bone loss, see the CATIE treatment update “Complications and Side Effects – Calcium and Vitamin D”.

For some recommendations on supplementation from NYBC, see the section “Better Bones”.


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