Research examining the preventative effects of calcium and vitamin D supplementation has focused on children and females, leaving the effects on male bone mineral density (BMD) largely unexplored. Thus, the aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis is to examine the efficacy of calcium supplementation, with or without vitamin D for improving BMD in healthy males. Medline, EMBASE, SPORTDiscus, Academic Search Complete, CINHAHL Plus and PubMed databases were searched for studies including healthy males which provided participants calcium supplementation with or without vitamin D and used changes to BMD as the primary outcome measure. Between trial standardized mean differences of percentage change from baseline in BMD of femoral neck, lumbar spine, total body and total hip sites were calculated. Nine studies were included in the systematic review with six references totaling 867 participants contributing to the meta-analysis. Significant pooled effects size (ES) for comparison between supplementation and control groups were found at all sites included in the meta-analysis. The largest effect was found in total body (ES = 0.644; 95% CI = 0.406–0.883; p < .001), followed by total hip (ES = 0.483, 95% CI= 0.255–0.711, p < .001), femoral neck (ES = 0.402, 95% CI = 0.233–0.570, p = .000) and lumbar spine (ES = 0.306, 95% CI = 0.173–0.440, p < .001). Limited evidence appears to support the use of calcium and vitamin D supplementation for improving BMD in older males. There is a need for high quality randomized controlled trials, especially in younger and middle-aged male cohorts and athletic populations to determine whether supplementation provides a preventative benefit.
The authors are with the School of Exercise Science, Australian Catholic University, Strathfield, New South Wales, Australia.