USPSTF recommendation against vitamin D, calcium supplementation draws criticism

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force on Monday issued a trio of controversial recommendations regarding supplementing with vitamin D and calcium. Specifically, the Task Force determined that the current evidence was insufficient to support vitamin D and calcium supplementation for the primary prevention of fractures in premenopausal women, in men or in postmenopausal women and recommended against daily supplementation of vitamin D or calcium toward that end. 

“These recommendations fail to recognize the well-established role of calcium and vitamin D in maintaining bone health," countered Taylor Wallace, senior director of scientific and regulatory affairs for the Council for Responsible Nutrition. "If these recommendations are taken to heart, or misconstrued as general recommendations against calcium and vitamin D, consumers could be compromising their bone health and missing out on important other benefits from these nutrients. The bottom line: calcium and vitamin D are vital to staying healthy.”

These recommendations are not the first controversial conclusions to come out of USPSTF. Previously, the same organization recommended against both routine mammography screenings in women under 50 years and breast self-examinations, as well as prostate cancer screenings for men, putting them at odds with many in the medical community, CRN noted. “These kinds of preventive measures help save lives, and similarly, taking calcium and vitamin D are valuable preventative measures that provide a variety of health benefits, despite the outcome of one meta-analysis," Wallace said. 

"The statement by the task force is contradicted by current research and may prove harmful to women at risk of fractures," added Cara Welch, SVP scientific and regulatory affairs for the Natural Products Association. "Studies continue to show the beneficial effects of calcium and vitamin D supplements."