Calcium, Vitamin D, Glucosamine Help Bones

January 26, 2001

2 Min Read
Calcium, Vitamin D, Glucosamine Help Bones

WASHINGTON--Supplementing with calcium, vitamin D and glucosamine may be the key to good bone health. In a new study, it was found that when people stopped supplementing with calcium and vitamin D, the increased bone density they had acquired via supplementation was lost, according to researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University.

This study was actually continuing research from a previous trial at the Center. In the original three-year study, 389 volunteers over the age of 65 consumed 500 mg of calcium and 700 IU of vitamin D daily. Supplementation caused volunteers to either gain or retain bone in the spine, hip and other areas in the body compared to volunteers taking placebo.

In this new study, Bess Dawson-Hughes and her colleagues followed 295 people from the original study for the next two years. Participants were not given supplemental dosages of calcium and vitamin D, but they were still allowed to take their own supplements.

At the end of two years, "no supplement-related benefits to spine or hip remained--either in bone mineral density or bone turnover," said Dawson-Hughes. However, male volunteers retained some benefit in whole-body bone mineral density; the reasons as to why this occurred were not apparent to the researchers. Nonetheless, the study concluded by stating that men and women 65 and older should consume recommended calcium and vitamin D levels on a continuous basis.

Another good supplement to take for the long-term is glucosamine, according to researchers led by Jean Yves Reginster at the University of Liege, a World Health Organization (WHO) center based in Belgium.

In a three-year, randomized, double-blind study published in Jan. 27's The Lancet (357:251-6, 2001), 212 patients with knee osteoarthritis were randomly given 1,500 mg of glucosamine sulfate. Progressive narrowing of the joint space at the knee was recorded in the 106 patients on placebo. The 106 patients on glucosamine sulfate experience no joint-space loss.

For a copy of the glucosamine study, visit; for information on the USDA trial, go to

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