In the Spotlight: Calcium and Vitamin D

By: Red Hot Mamas

Published: June 2, 2010

In the past two weeks, major research findings have left women even more confused and baffled about some major health topics. Results from some significant studies were released just last week. Calcium and vitamin D may not prevent broken bones and colorectal cancer as we once thought.

Calcium and Vitamin D supplements made headlines on February 16, 2006 when “The New England Journal of Medicine” published the latest Women’s Health Initiative study. The seven years of research included 36,282 women ages 50 to 79. Women were randomly assigned to take either one daily pill of 1,000 milligrams elemental calcium and 400 international units of vitamin D3 or daily placebo pills. The study revealed a 1% higher hip bone density and a 12% lower chance of having a hip fracture for the group taking supplements. No statistically significant difference in the incidence of colorectal cancer was found between the supplement group and the placebo group. The National Institutes of Health statement was released February 15, 2006.

Women are being bombarded with information from the media. We hear various interpretations of the data that was released “a moment ago”, but who and what should we believe? Throughout all the hype, we cannot abandon the notion that a healthy lifestyle is within our reach. You may be able to get enough calcium and vitamin D from the foods you eat, so make friends with a cow and get a sufficient amount of exposure to sunlight each day (15 minutes). But given the fact of the release of this recent information in the New England Journal of Medicine, we can’t assume a low-fat diet or calcium/vitamin D supplements do not make a difference. These regimens provide many other good benefits.

Health decisions regarding these topics should be treated individually for every woman. The studies are merely one piece of a larger puzzle. Sorting out the facts and making sense of the news is difficult and confusing for a great many of us. If you have concerns about these new findings, discuss them with your doctor- an expert who understands your health and someone you trust and who stays up- to-date on the latest studies.

The evolution of menopause is a mystery that researchers have yet to unfold. We are an extraordinary species of the animal kingdom. Homo sapiens have tremendous psychological capacities. The nature of our behavior is complex as is our ability to rationalize it. We are the most intelligent of all living beings on Earth although we share many similar biological characteristics to our evolutionary primate cousins, the gorilla.

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