The study was commissioned and funded by Food Supplements Europe but conducted independently by Frost & Sullivan using existing published literature and official data, focusing on Europe and the region’s statistics.
Scientific research shows that daily supplementation with 1,000 mg of calcium and 15 µg (micrograms) of vitamin D results in a 15 percent reduction in the risk of osteoporosis-attributed fractures among those aged 55 or over with the disease. As such, if all of these at-risk individuals were to consume calcium and vitamin D at this amount and regularity, there could be significantly fewer fractures every year with potential savings of €3.96 billion (US$4.19 billion) per annum in avoidable healthcare costs.
Food Supplements Europe chair Ingrid Atteryd said: “Over several decades, a significant amount of clinical research has been conducted showing that the daily use of calcium and vitamin D food supplements is highly correlated to a lower risk of experiencing an osteoporosis-attributed fracture.
“This new analysis, for the first time, demonstrates that more widespread supplementation with these nutrients could also save many billions of euros in avoidable healthcare costs. Educating target consumers to understand the benefits of calcium and vitamin D, through official advice at both EU and national level, and via healthcare professionals in the media, could deliver major benefits in both wellbeing and financial terms.”
Ms Atteryd added: “The EU’s population is ageing and without taking action the number of bone fractures attributed to osteoporosis will almost certainly rise. As such it has never been more important to leverage the substantiated benefits of calcium and vitamin D to help minimise the financial burden of this disease on healthcare systems across Europe. In addition, quality of life would be improved for millions of people—a benefit that is priceless.”
Osteoporosis is a bone disease in which the density and quality of bone are reduced, leading to a weakness of the skeleton. The condition significantly increases the risk of fracture from a fall, particularly at the hip, spine and wrist.
Statistics for osteoporosis-attributed bone fractures runs quite high—osteoporosis affects an estimated 75 million people in Europe, US and Japan. Worldwide, an osteoporotic fracture is estimated to occur every three seconds.
This study’s findings would also similarly apply to Southeast Asia, and possibly benefit this region even more. Several studies carried out across different countries in South and South East Asia showed, with few exceptions, widespread prevalence of vitaminosis D (vitamin D deficiency/insufficiency), in both sexes and all age groups of the population.
The disease is greatly underdiagnosed and undertreated in Asia, even in the most high risk patients who have already fractured. The problem is particularly acute in rural areas. In the most populous countries like China and India, the majority of the population lives in rural areas (60 percent in China), where hip fractures are often treated conservatively at home instead of by surgical treatment in hospitals.
Nearly all Asian countries fall far below the FAO/WHO recommendations for calcium intake of between 1000 and 1300 mg/day. The median dietary calcium intake for the adult Asian population is approximately 450 mg/day, with a potential detrimental impact on bone health in the region.
Therefore, if countries were to make efforts to increase their populations’ calcium and vitamin D daily intake, Asia (like Europe) could too achieve significant savings in healthcare spent on osteoporotic-related fractures as well as improve the lives of the people.