CALCIUM is the most abundant mineral in the human body. It is vital for more than 500 different functions in the human body. It is white and it is the reason why bones and teeth which are rich in calcium are white.

It is also the reason why the remains of a body is white when cremated.

Ninety-nine per cent of calcium is stored in the bones.

That is why bone health is directly linked to calcium status.

So, will just taking calcium supplements alone help?

They have always been linked vitamin D and calcium. We learnt that in school. They are supposed to work together - vitamin and mineral to make strong and healthy bones and teeth.

Vitamin D is more and more in the news these days. It seems that it works better when combined with calcium.

If you are health conscious, you should consider supplementing with vitamin D and calcium especially if you feel your bones are brittle or have a family history of bone disease.

And there is a large study to prove it.

The latest study was published in Jan 16th 2010, issue of the British Medical Journal. It features a cover emblazoned with the words "Vitamin D deficiency".

It reports the results of a review of seven clinical trials which found that supplementing daily with both calcium and vitamin D helps prevent bone fractures among men and women of all ages, with or without a history of fracture.

An international team of scientists led by researchers at Copenhagen University in Denmark pooled data from 68,517 participants aged 47 to 107 for their analysis of randomised trials involving vitamin D supplementation. Included in the analysis was Women's Health Initiative (WHI) trial data published in 2006.

The following have been linked to increased fracture risk:

  • age
  • female gender
  • previous fracture
  • The combination of vitamin D with calcium reduced: - overall fracture risk by eight percent - hip fracture by 16 per cent

    This was when compared to the risk experienced by those who did not receive the nutrients.

    Vitamin D supplementation alone in daily doses of 10 or 20 microgrammes was not associated with significant benefits.

    Fracture history, age, gender or the use of hormone replacement therapy did not appear to affect vitamin D and calcium's effects.

    "What is important about this very large study is that it goes a long way toward resolving conflicting evidence about the role of vitamin D, either alone or in combination with calcium, in reducing fractures," noted co- author John Robbins, who is a professor of internal medicine at the University of California, Davis.

    "Our WHI research in Sacramento included more than 1,000 healthy, postmenopausal women and concluded that taking calcium and vitamin D together helped them preserve bone health and prevent fractures.

    "This latest analysis, because it incorporates so many more people, really confirms our earlier conclusions.

    "This study supports a growing consensus that combined calcium and vitamin D is more effective than vitamin D alone in reducing a variety of fractures," Dr Robbins added.

    "Interestingly, this combination of supplements benefits both women and men of all ages, which is not something we fully expected to find. We now need to investigate the best dosage, duration and optimal way for people to take it."

    It is interesting that all living foods rich in calcium found in nature always come with vitamin D.

    Examples are milk, eggs, meat and fish.

    This might explain the failure of supplements that do not contain vitamin D but are simply rich in calcium.

    Salts of calcium like carbonate and citrate are not really part of living organisms and hence, lack vital content of vitamin D that help the calcium in them to be better assimilated and incorporated in the bone tissue.

    Also, you will see that in whole foods that are alive, the calcium is there with phosphorus and magnesium in a unique 2:1:1 ratio.

    So if you are taking Calcium supplements, look to whole foods - V Look to MOO Milk Calcium PLUS Now with Vit D.

    By Dato' Rajen M.

    Publish in New Sunday Times , February 21, 2010