Osteoporosis and fragility fractures are important social and economic problems worldwide and are due to both the loss of bone mineral density and sarcopenia. Indeed, fragility fractures are associated with increased disability, morbidity and mortality. It is known that a normal calcium balance together with a normal vitamin D status is important for maintaining well-balanced bone metabolism, and for many years, calcium and vitamin D have been considered crucial in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. However, recently, the usefulness of calcium supplementation (alone or with concomitant vitamin D) has been questioned, since some studies reported only weak efficacy of these supplementations in reducing fragility fracture risk. On the other hand, besides the gastrointestinal side effects of calcium supplements and the risk of kidney stones related to use of co-administered calcium and vitamin D supplements, other recent data suggested potential adverse cardiovascular effects from calcium supplementation. This debate article is focused on the evidence regarding both the possible usefulness for bone health and the potential harmful effects of calcium and/or calcium with vitamin D supplementation.
© 2018 European Society of Endocrinology.