The group is an independent panel of experts in prevention and primary care and was appointed by the federal Department of Health and Human Services. In a report, the task force said there was insufficient evidence to recommend taking vitamin D with or without calcium to prevent fractures in postmenopausal women and men.
Scientists who took part in the study said a normal healthy diet provides enough vitamin D and calcium.
The New York Times reported on the task force findings.
The supplements also have been studied to see if they prevent cancer. But the group said there is insufficient evidence to say they do or do not. Their analysis of the effects of the supplements included 137 studies, including randomized controlled trials, which are considered the gold standard for clinical evidence.
The low doses that the group referred to were a typical level of 400 international units or less of vitamin D a day and 1,000 milligrams or less of calcium.
At that dose, said Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, a member of the task force who is an associate professor of medicine at the University of California in San Francisco, “There is sufficient evidence to say they do not prevent fractures.”
“When you take a vitamin supplement or any therapy for an extended period of time, you have to ask, ‘What is the evidence that it works and what is the evidence of harms?’ ” Dr. Bibbins-Domingo said.
“It is clear that lower doses of calcium and vitamin D do not prevent fractures, and there is a small but measurable risk of kidney stones,” she said. So with no evidence of benefit, there is no reason to risk harm.
Dr. Bibbins-Domingo said the task force recommendations did not apply to people with osteoporosis.
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