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Calcium & Vitamin D Improves Bone Strength When Taken with HRT?

Natural sources of calciumA new study slated to be published in the February 2014 print issue of Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), found that women who were taking calcium and vitamin D supplements, in conjunction with hormone replacement therapy, experienced considerably less hip fractures compared to women who only used hormone therapy, those who only took supplements, and those who used neither.

For those women who showed the greatest benefit in bone strength, their total calcium intake was greater than 1,200 mg/day.  The women who took higher intakes of vitamin D also showed an increase benefit as well.

Though the researchers didn’t specify exactly how much calcium and vitamin D women should take, the results of the study indicated that the increase in benefits directly correlated with the increase in intake of both supplements.

Since I also use hormone replacement therapy, and have increased my vitamin D levels due to my fibromyalgia diagnosis last year, this study is actually of some interest to me. If you are also using hormone replacement therapy, it might be of interest to you as well.

I don’t know about you, ladies, but I’ve done my fair share of research on the benefits of calcium supplementation during perimenopause and menopause.  These results conflict with what I’ve read.  Both calcium and magnesium supplementation used to be recommended to perimenopausal women to help with sleep. 

However, since then, some studies have revealed that calcium supplementation can increase kidney stones, and others say calcium can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in post-menopausal women due to an increase in mineral deposits from the supplements, which caused a hardening of the arteries. Though calcium derived from natural sources such as kale, cheese, and milk did not pose the same risks.  

It appears to me that calcium and vitamin D supplements used in conjunction with hormone replacement therapy (specifically estrogen and progesterone) is the mitigating factor in this study, compared to the others.

Personally, I eat a lot of greens such as kale, drink a lot of milk, and eat a fair amount of cheeses as well.  In fact, when I learned that calcium supplements could increase my risk for cardiovascular disease, I no longer felt comfortable taking them. I increased my intake of natural sources instead.  And, frankly, the average American diet is not a diet that tends to be low in calcium anyway, in my view.

If you share my concern with supplements, it certainly seems reasonable to expect that simply increasing natural sources of calcium and vitamin D would certainly provide benefits to our bone health.  And I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for a reason to eat more ice cream!

Magnolia Miller is a certified healthcare consumer advocate in women's health and a women's freelance health writer and blogger at The Perimenopause Blog.

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Tags: Complimentary & Alternative Therapies , Hormone Therapy , News and Research , Perimenopause

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About the Author

Magnolia is dedicated to empowering women to take responsibility for their own health.