DEAR DR. ROACH: I just completed a bone density scan that showed that I have osteopenia. My doctor has suggested that I take both vitamin D and calcium. I read your recent column that said this can increase stroke risk, which my doctor did not tell me. I am confused that she would suggest I take vitamin D and calcium if it would increase risk of stroke. L.B.
ANSWER: Taken together, calcium and vitamin D reduce the risk of fracture in women with osteoporosis. Naturally, your doctor is concerned about your bones and wants to prevent a fracture, which can be devastating.
However, there is a substantial and growing body of literature suggesting that calcium supplements, but not dietary calcium, increase the risk of heart disease, and a new study showed an increased risk of stroke among those taking calcium supplements and vitamin D. However, there are other studies that have NOT shown an association between calcium supplements and heart attack or stroke. Experts are divided.