The need for clinical guidance in the use of calcium and vitamin D in the management of osteoporosis: a consensus report

Osteoporos Int. 2004 Jul;15(7):511-9. doi: 10.1007/s00198-004-1621-6.


A European Union (EU) directive on vitamins and minerals used as ingredients of food supplements with a nutritional or physiological effect (2002/46/EC) was introduced in 2003. Its implications for the use of oral supplements of calcium and vitamin D in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis were discussed at a meeting organized with the help of the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center for Public Health Aspects of Rheumatic Diseases (Liège, Belgium) and the support of the WHO Collaborating Center for Osteoporosis Prevention (Geneva, Switzerland). The following issues were addressed: Is osteoporosis a physiological or a medical condition? What is the evidence for the efficacy of calcium and vitamin D in the management of postmenopausal osteoporosis? What are the risks of self-management by patients in osteoporosis? From their discussions, the panel concluded that: (1) osteoporosis is a disease that requires continuing medical attention to ensure optimal therapeutic benefits; (2) when given in appropriate doses, calcium and vitamin D have been shown to be pharmacologically active (particularly in patients with dietary deficiencies), safe, and effective for the prevention and treatment of osteoporotic fractures; (3) calcium and vitamin D are an essential, but not sufficient, component of an integrated management strategy for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis in patients with dietary insufficiencies, although maximal benefit in terms of fracture prevention requires the addition of antiresorptive therapy; (4) calcium and vitamin D are a cost-effective medication in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis; (5) it is apparent that awareness of the efficacy of calcium and vitamin D in osteoporosis is still low and further work needs to be done to increase awareness among physicians, patients, and women at risk; and (6) in order that calcium and vitamin D continues to be manufactured to Good Manufacturing Practice standards and physicians and other health care professionals continue to provide guidance for the optimal use of these agents, they should continue to be classified as medicinal products.

Publication types

  • Consensus Development Conference
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Calcium, Dietary / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoporosis / diet therapy*
  • Osteoporosis / drug therapy
  • Osteoporosis / prevention & control
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Care
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage*


  • Calcium, Dietary
  • Vitamin D