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Those Calcium and Vitamin D Supplements Aren’t Helping You Much, Research Suggests

If you’ve been taking calcium and vitamin D supplements thinking you were boosting your odds of avoiding future broken bones, you may have been wasting your time.

New research published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that seniors may be wasting their money if they’re taking the supplements as a way to prevent brittle bones in old age, CBS News reports. According to an analysis data gathered from dozens of clinical trials, the supplements don’t actually make much of a difference when it comes to preventing outcomes like hip fractures in elderly people.

While the lead author of the study suggests that it’s time for older people to stop taking the supplements on a regular basis, other orthopedic surgeons think that the study goes too far in suggesting the supplements are no good at all. Other doctors say that even though the chance of the supplements preventing a hip fracture is low, it’s better to take them anyway under the assumption that they might do even a little bit of good.

While you shouldn’t rely on supplements to keep your bones healthy, the study doesn’t suggest that vitamin D and calcium aren’t themselves useful at all. The study’s lead author argues that both are irreplaceable for skeletal health but should be consumed in the form of foods like milk, fruits, beans, and vegetables rather than in pill form.

Another good way to get your vitamin D? Head outside for a little exercise, since exposure to sunlight helps the body produce the nutrient.