Rafizi urged PH leaders re-focus their efforts on delivering economic reforms or risk alienating the very people who have voted them into power. — Picture by Azinuddin Ghazali
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 19 ― Former Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli has cautioned Pakatan Harapan (PH) today against taking in defectors from rival party Umno.In an open letter to the PH leadership, Rafizi said the “cloak-and-dagger” manoeuvres and backroom deals are eroding public confidence and angering PH supporters.“In that same context, I wish to caution the PH leadership that the public is disgusted with the recent wave of Umno MPs switching sides,” he wrote.“To swing voters, it is yet another evidence that the PH administration is more focused on internal power dynamics, rather than focusing on delivering on our election promises. We also dilute our reform credentials in the eyes of PH’s hardcore supporters.“To those who argue that the orchestrated mass migration of Umno MPs is necessary to strengthen PH’s grip on Malay voters, there is no indication this is happening. In fact, it provokes angrier sentiment against PH among the Umno-PAS supporters,’’ he added.Rafizi then urged PH leaders re-focus their efforts on delivering economic reforms or risk alienating the very people who have voted them into power.“From the first post-GE14 survey until this month’s poll, reducing higher cost of living and fulfilling election promises top the key concern of the voters across the board.“We need to demonstrate seriousness in making life better for the ordinary Malaysians, not to be dragged by endless cloak-and-dagger political manoeuvres of the old Malaysia,’’ he said.“Instead of winning them over with economic narratives and delivery, we are pushing them further away (much in the same way the engineered defection that toppled the Perak government did not endear the PH supporters to BN then),’’ he added, referring to the 2009 Perak constitutional crisis.The cautionary open letter came on the back of the former PKR vice-president’s meeting with fellow PKR MP Nurul Izzah Anwar and rival politician, Umno’s Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin yesterday.Nurul Izzah had previously quit her party posts, purportedly in protest of the migration of Umno MPs into PH.Rafizi has since denied that he, Nurul Izzah, and Khairy were conspiring to leave their parties or to form a new party. [...]
A woman stands at the booth of Huawei featuring 5G technology at the PT Expo in Beijin September 28, 2018. — Reuters pic
PARIS, Dec 16 — The recent diplomatic dust-up over Chinese telecoms company Huawei, one of the leaders in developing equipment for fifth-generation mobile networks, has demonstrated that this technology which promises to enable an internet of things and self-driving vehicles also poses risks.What is 5G, what will it be able to do, and what are the risks?What is 5G?5G stands for the fifth generation of mobile network technology, which should begin to be rolled out in 2020 in Asia and the United States.Each generation has offered improvements in data transmission speed and capacity, and with 5G the networks are really set to make the transition from telephony to other objects.What will it be able to do?The much vaunted internet of things has so far been hobbled by the limitations of mobile networks, both in terms of transmission speeds of handsets and the fact the backbone of networks hadn't been expanded sufficiently in many cases to handle huge volumes of data.With 5G, transmission speeds should accelerate sufficiently to allow for self-driving cars to take to the roads or for doctors to conduct operations remotely.It will also cut the cord on augmented and virtual reality.The ability to connect more sensors will help make many services "intelligent," such as helping manage traffic flow and telling the sanitation department when garbage bins need to be emptied.Industry is in particular looking forward to 5G to reinvent manufacturing and allow it to monitor all sorts of processes.Why does 5G pose security risks?The first reason is that more data and more types of data will be travelling across 5G networks. Much of the data transmitted by sensors could be sensitive, such as information about manufacturing processes that business rivals would be interested in acquiring. Or the data from our homes that could be gleaned to determine all sorts of things about us. The treasure chest of data for hackers is getting much, much bigger.A second reason is that an increased reliance on the mobile network means its disruption would have even more serious consequences, both in terms of safety and economic activity. A failure during a remotely guided operation could lead to the death of a patient or a crash of a self-driving car. A longer outage could disrupt an economy. This poses national security risks.While the diplomatic spat over the arrest of Huawei's chief financial officer was based on accusations the firm violated US sanctions on Iran, the United States has longstanding concerns about Chinese telecommunications equipment being a Trojan horse for Beijing's intelligence and military.Huawei is a major manufacturer of equipment used to build 5G networks, and the US defence establishment fears it could enable it to disrupt American military communications or otherwise wage asymmetrical warfare in a confrontation.The United States has essentially barred use of Huawei equipment in domestic networks, as have Australia and New Zealand, with other countries considering following suit.Deliverance or disappointment?The promises are always hyped, but the delivery is often a disappointment. Early buyers of 4G smartphones were often let down: Their handsets could handle nippy speeds but the backbone of networks were often not yet bulked up to handle the higher data flow.Operators have now built up the capacity of their backbone networks, but if 5G is to keep its promise the number of base stations needed is enormous. Otherwise, users will be forced back onto slower networks.Meanwhile operators are having to invest billions to roll out 5G, which is an issue because competition in many countries has hemmed in prices companies can charge consumers.While most analysts believe operators will in the end be able to finance building the new networks, they may not initially be dense enough to handle some of the most anticipated applications.Building a dense network of base stations along highways to handle self-driving vehicles will be a costly endeavour, for example, and operators may find themselves seeking partners from users of new services. — AFP [...]
ZURICH • The Swiss National Bank (SNB) cut its inflation forecast and showed no inclination of moving off its crisis era settings, citing the franc’s strength and mounting global risks.
Investor anxiety about Italian politics, trade tensions and Brexit has put upward pressure on the franc in recent months, dragging it further away from its April low against the euro. Highlighting those risks yesterday, the SNB repeated its muchused phrase that the situation remains “fragile” and maintained its currency intervention threat.
The central bank slashed its 2019 inflation forecast to 0.5% from 0.8%. While price growth will pick up the following year, the revival — to 1% — will be weaker than previously projected. Economic expansion will slow to 1.5% next year from about 2.5% this year, it said.
“Risks are to the downside, as is the case with the global economy. In particular, a sharp slowdown internationally would quickly spread to Switzerland.”
Switzerland’s decision comes just hours before the European Central Bank (ECB) is due to announce an end to its enormous bond-buying programme. The launch of that stimulus in 2015 led the SNB to unleash a market storm by slashing rates to their current lows and scrapping its 1.20-per-euro minimum exchange rate.
The franc weakened to that level earlier this year, briefly raising the possibility of Swiss policymakers getting ahead of their euro-area counterparts with a rate rise.
But it’s since appreciated through 1.13 versus the euro and that, along with mounting risks, has dashed hopes of a preemptive SNB hike. In addition, the Swiss economy unexpectedly shrank in the third quarter.
“Given the economic and political uncertainties, there is also the risk of major and sudden movements in the exchange rate, which would significantly alter monetary conditions,” SNB president Thomas Jordan said. “We therefore continue to regard the situation on the foreign- exchange market as fragile.”
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SINGAPORE (Dec 12): Singapore Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan has stressed that Singapore's plans to introduce an Instrument Landing System (ILS) for Seletar Airport will... [...]
submitted by /u/Aakashasnaturals [link] [comments] [...]
Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad arrives at the Apec CEO Summit 2018 at the Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, 17 November 2018. — Reuters pic
PORT MORESBY, Nov 17 -— Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad warned the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) bloc today to deal with the “age of disruption” or risk becoming irrelevant.He said what was worrying was not the strategy, but the speed of needed interventions to handle such technological disruptions, as ride-sharing and home-sharing platforms disrupt conventional taxi and hotel businesses.“It is a new frontier, mostly still uncharted. Apec too will have to deal with this disruption, failing which, it too will become irrelevant.“It is time that member countries of Apec and other trade organisations realise that in the age of disruption, a fairer and more genuine cooperation between the developed and developing nations can help member states to deal with the disruption,” Dr Mahathir said in a keynote address at the Apec CEO Summit here held on P&O cruise ship “The Pacific Explorer”.Apec, a 21-member economic grouping of which Malaysia is part of, comprises both rich and poor nations like the United States, Russia, China, Mexico, and Papua New Guinea.Dr Mahathir pointed out that in a speech he made in Parliament last month, he had said his administration would focus on “inclusive and equitable” development to ensure that all Malaysians enjoyed shared prosperity.“Apec should also promote the concept of shared prosperity among its member states. I believe in the adage, ‘Prosper Thy Neighbour’ and not ‘Beggar Thy Neighbour’. Everyone gains from the former, while only one side gains from the latter.“Only with this win-win concept among Apec members can we chart a common and an inclusive future in the Age of Disruption,” said Dr Mahathir. [...]
Most economists forecast growth will ebb a bit in 2019 on the back of protectionism, higher interest rates and the fading support of tax cuts
HONG KONG • The world’s major economies that entered 2018 accelerating in sync risk entering 2019 decelerating in sync.
The shift is being led by China, where the economy’s weakest performance since 2009 is set to worsen unless a peace can be struck in the trade war with the US factory readings from Asia already show a fallout, with Taiwan, Thailand and Malaysia slipping into contraction territory.
The euro-area too is losing momentum, expanding in the third quarter (3Q) at half the pace of the prior three months as Italy and Germany stagnated. That comes just as inflation is picking up, setting up a complex 2019 for European Central Bank policymakers who have pledged to dial down monetary support.
The question is whether the US can resist the downdraft, providing ballast for the rest of the world. While a tightening labour market gives reason to hope it can, most economists forecast growth will ebb a bit in 2019 on the back of protectionism, higher interest rates and the fading support of tax cuts.
“The story is that we will probably re-synchronise,” said Joachim Fels, global economic advisor at Pacific Investment Management Co. “But this time on the downside.”
It’s a marked turnaround from April, when the International Monetary Fund (IMF) declared the world was enjoying the most united upswing since 2010. Its mood changed in October when IMF cut its global outlook for the first time in two years and said growth had plateaued.
There are other signs the peak has passed for the global economy. IHS Markit’s Purchasing Managers’ Indexes (PMIs) for China and the euro-area all retreated last month to drive the overall reading to an almost two-year low, while the US gauge was little changed. Most countries have now seen their PMIs declining over the last three months.
“The latest data strongly supports the view that the best days in the post2008 financial crisis growth cycle have been seen,” said Alan Ruskin, global co-head of foreign-exchange research at Deutsche Bank AG.
A global reversal could add further jitters to financial markets and eventually pressure central banks such as the US Federal Reserve (Fed) to slow their exit from monetary stimulus, although so far there’s scant sign the Fed is for turning.
“Global growth started 2018 strong and convergent. Heading toward 2019, the strength in the US is still there, for much of the rest of the world it is not.
“A key question for the year ahead — the size of the trade war drag and the magnitude of the Chinese policy response. An effective stimulus from China would take a lot of the concern about global growth off the table,” according to Tom Orlik, chief economist of Bloomberg Economics.
Circuit breakers could include a breakthrough in the trade dispute. Bloomberg reported last Friday that US President Donald Trump wants to reach a deal with Chinese President Xi Jinping later this month.
Other tonics could include a slower than expected pace of Fed rate hikes, which would also ease pressure on borrowers and emerging markets. As would a soothing of political tensions over Britain’s plan to leave the European Union or concerns about Italy’s huge debt pile.
The growth wobbles have already hit markets, and the moves have been significant enough that they could have economic consequences. October marked one of the worst months for the bull market in US stocks, contributing to sell-offs around the world that erased some US$8 trillion (RM33.28 trillion) in wealth.
A further 20% fall in global equity markets could lower average advanced economy GDP in 2019 and 2020, according to an estimate by Oxford Economics.
The US is already forecast to slow, with growth tipped to cool to 2.7% in the 4Q, versus 3.5% in the 3Q and 4.2% in the 2Q, according to the median forecasts of economists tracked by Bloomberg.
“You can argue that global growth is synchronising again now that the US is seeing growth decelerate,” said Megan Greene, chief economist at Manulife Asset Management. “This was absolutely to be expected as developed countries converged back toward their potential GDP growth rates.” — Bloomberg
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Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan claims that the 2019 Budget’s theme is not in line with the fiscal policy the government wishes to implement. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
SEREMBAN, Nov 4 — Umno Deputy President Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan claims that the 2019 Budget’s theme of “A Resurgent Malaysia, A Dynamic Economy, A Prosperous Society” is not in line with the fiscal policy the government wishes to implement.He said by placing the country’s fiscal position and economy at a higher risk of instability with a fiscal management that was once again tied to the global oil market, the reality was that Malaysia’s economy had become less dynamic.“The government has estimated this year’s fiscal deficit to be at 3.7 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product, which is much higher than the 2.8 per cent forecast under the 2018 Budget.“A 3.7 per cent deficit is equivalent to RM53.3 billion, or RM13 billion higher than last year’s deficit, and is the largest deficit in the country’s history. This also means the government will continue to take on new debts,” Mohamad said in a post on his Facebook account today.He said Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng’s tabling of the budget’s measures, incentives and initiatives on last Friday did not present a clear direction for the country’s fiscal policy, nor was it organised or visionary.Mohamad also claimed that the proposed fiscal policy did not give enough consideration to Malaysia’s position as a small open economy.“The government’s fiscal policy is not taking into account rising global economic risks where the probability of a new financial crisis occurring soon is supported by the latest data.“The government seems to think that the country’s fiscal management is only based on the domestic economic situation without considering external factors or implications on the (economic) stability and resilience,” he said.Mohamad opined that there should be an urgent need for commitment towards fiscal consolidation when formulating the country’s economic policy as the external current account balance was expected to shrink.“This (commitment) can be seen as an assurance that repayment of government debt can be sourced domestically,” he said.Mohamad also claimed the initiatives for the people as outlined in the budget were too insignificant to meaningfully stimulate the economy.“The focus on providing a social safety net for the low-income group has been set aside for a corporate or business friendly agenda.“Therefore, the aspiration of a ‘prosperous society’ is not significant enough to be a main theme for the 2019 Budget,” he added. — Bernama [...]
KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 2): Following the announcement of the 2019 Budget, S&P Global Ratings views the risks to Malaysia’s fiscal and debt profiles remain elevated,... [...]
HONG KONG/LONDON: Standard Chartered warned on Wednesday an escalating Sino-U.S. trade war was weighing on business sentiment in its core emerging markets, after posting a better than expected 31 percent rise in quarterly profit before tax. [...]
NEW research in Hong Kong has found that UV filters commonly used in sunscreen are polluting surrounding waters and could endanger human health, one of the city’s leading universities said .
An “extensive amount” of seven common UV filter chemicals was found in Hong Kong seawater as well as in fish, shrimps and mussels on aqua-farms, scientists from Hong Kong Baptist University told reporters.
“The effect of these contaminants passing along the food chain to humans and the long-term impact on human fertility cannot be neglected,” said Dr Kelvin Leung, who led the research.
Tests performed on zebrafish, which share a similar genetic structure to humans, showed the polluted water caused abnormalities and a higher mortality rate in the fish’s embryos as the chemicals entered the food chain.
The university described the study as a world-first in identifying the harm caused by a combination of polluting chemicals in sunscreen. Researchers said they would conduct further tests to learn more about the effects of UV filters on the human body.
The chemicals tested on the zebrafish study included octocrylene (known as OC), benzophenone-3 (known as BP-3) and ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate (known as EHMC), which were found to be the most abundant types of chemical UV filters in Hong Kong waters.
The European Union’s International Chemical Secretariat has already established BP-3 as a threat to human health and called for it to be replaced with another, safer ingredient. Dr Leung added that these chemicals can accumulate in the human body and cannot be dissolved or diluted simply by drinking water.
There is growing international concern over the polluting effects of sunscreen. Hawaii signed a bill in July to ban sunscreens containing chemicals harmful to coral reefs, which will take effect from 2021. But the ban raised concerns that it may deter consumers from using sunscreen to protect their skin from cancer.
Leung called for more regulations on the use of chemicals in personal care products and recommended consumers use mineral-based sunscreens such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, or wear sun-protection clothing. – AFP Relaxnews [...]
SINGAPORE: Singapore’s economy grew slower than initial estimates in the April-June period on a quarter-on-quarter basis, revised data showed on Monday, as the government flagged a likely moderation in growth in the second half. [...]
A voter casts her ballot during the Sg Kandis by-election at SK Jalan Kebun in Shah Alam August 4, 2018. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
PETALING JAYA, Aug 5 — The Sungai Kandis by-election shows that Barisan Nasional (BN), particularly Umno, needs a total revamp or risks being confined to history.The race for the Selangor state seat retained by PKR not only reflected Malays’ desire for Umno to change, but also showed the irrelevance of Umno’s race- and religion-centric struggle in a changing political landscape.The numbers that BN polled showed that even older Malay voters were now either rejecting Umno’s racial politics or the party’s newly elected leadership that still contained the old warlords.Polling just 9,000 votes, including PAS members and supporters, is nothing to be proud of.Umno leaders will have to admit the party’s support is fast dwindling, just three months after BN was badly trounced and removed from government.The result simply showed the Malay-based party needs either to call it a day or get new leaders with fresh perspectives, and acceptable and relevant approaches.The Malay-based party cannot blame its partners MCA and MIC because it contested Sungai Kandis alone and unofficially partnered PAS, as the Islamist party sat out the by-election.The Sungai Kandis by-election showed even the Islamist party has lost ground too. Umno polled over 11,000 votes in the constituency in the May 9 general election, while PAS pulled in over 7,000 votes.In short, both parties that fight for race and religion found themselves somewhat lost in the new political environment and ambience as voters are beginning to accept the new political outlook presented by Pakatan Harapan (PH) led by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.Umno and PAS may claim the constituency is suburban and does not reflect the rural Malay majority who are supposedly more conservative, but the scenario is fast changing.Race and religion are slowly taking a backseat in the country’s mainstream political agenda as democracy and its fundamentals are taking shape in the minds of Malaysians at large, and Malays in particular.Umno and the coalition it leads — now leaving the original partners MCA and MIC — need to chart a new chapter that reflects equality and justice in the coalition leadership, a true reflection of democracy like what is being put on the table now by PH.Former Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin was right when he proposed that Umno become multiracial, similar to what was suggested by late Umno founder Datuk Onn Jaafar that was rejected by Umno members and leaders in the early fifties.But unfortunately, Khairy’s proposal was rejected and he lost to Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in the race for the party presidency one month ago.In the Sungai Kandis race, Umno failed to take advantage of problems faced by the three-month-old PH government that has yet to properly organise itself.Umno has to face the reality that it needs more than just superficial make-up or the repainting of an old dilapidated house to be accepted again by the very Malays who have supported it for more than 60 years.The party needs a total change, from leadership line-up to the basis of its struggles, or face extinction in the evolving political landscape. [...]
BEIJING: China’s official factory gauge weakened this month, as credit conditions tighten and the trade war threatens exports. [...]
Kelantan PKR chief Ab Aziz Ab Kadir has expressed his concern that the lack of representation would mean the absence of a spokesman that could deliver Putrajaya’s message into the two states. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
KUALA LUMPUR, July 9 — With zero MPs in Kelantan and Terengganu, Pakatan Harapan (PH) may further alienate voters in the two Malay-majority states as no ministers or deputy ministers can be elected from there.Kelantan PKR chief Ab Aziz Ab Kadir has expressed his concern that the lack of representation would mean the absence of a spokesman that could deliver Putrajaya’s message into the two states, which had overwhelmingly chosen Islamist party PAS in the polls.“If there is no one to represent Kelantan in the Cabinet, it means there are no representatives of the federal government on the ground here.“It would be slightly difficult to push for the government’s agendas here if that was the case,” he told Malay Mail.Last week, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s academic Datuk Denison Jayasooria had also pointed out that this lack of representation is a blemish on the coalition, which has so far managed to put out a united front of lawmakers from different ethnic and religious backgrounds.“PH has no parliamentarians from Kelantan and Terengganu, and this has an implication in the kind of voting trend that has emerged, in terms of dominance of Peninsular Malaysia, even in contrasts with Sabah and Sarawak in this post-GE14 Cabinet,” he told a seminar in the International Islamic University Malaysia.This comes as Denison warned that PAS, which now govern the two states, will emerge as a “real power” in the next two elections, while defeated Umno may still hold sway over the rural, Malay-dominated seats.In the 14th general election, PH contested all 22 federal seats and 67 state seats in Kelantan and Terengganu combined, but won none.Terengganu PPBM chief Datuk Razali Idris said the abysmal performance ended up being reflected by the Cabinet line-up.“The current line-up consists of those who managed to win or retain their seat in GE14. It seems that Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is giving way to those who have performed well in the elections,” he said.But the solution may be as simple as electing senators from the two states, the leaders said.“Hopefully appointed senators can fill in the gap,’’ Ab Aziz said.“However we are not insistent on asking the PH chairman to elect party leaders from Terengganu to the cabinet,” Razali added.“Perhaps [Dr Mahathir] would provide other opportunities for us to be the representatives of the federal government such as being appointed as a senator or other post,.’But Terengganu Parti Amanah Negara chief Raja Datuk Kamarul Bahrin Shah was nonplussed over the matter, leaving it instead to PH’s top leaders.“I leave it up to the coalition leadership to pick on those to be in cabinet. At the moment, I’ll do what I can and ensure the existing responsibilities laid on me is done to the letter,’’ he said.Last month, Amanah president Mohamad Sabu said he is confident that the federal government have not forgotten about the two states, and will elect one minister and another deputy minister from each of them.However, he said the matter was still being discussed by PH and the final word will be left to Dr Mahathir.A total of 26 ministers and 23 of their deputies have been appointed as of Monday and Dr Mahathir has said that three more ministers will be appointed at a later date.He said the posts will be filled by senators, who could be non-politicians instead. [...]
There has been an assumption for decades that as a natural element, calcium supplements must intrinsically be safe. But, as I explore in my video Are Calcium Supplements Effective?, calcium supplementation is neither natural nor risk-free. The same could be said, however, for all medications, yet doctors continue to write billions of drug prescriptions every year hoping the benefits outweigh the risks.
So, what about the benefits of calcium supplements versus the risks they pose for heart attacks and strokes? Having a heart attack or stroke can be devastating, but so can a hip fracture. In the months after a hip fracture, risk of dying shoots up, with about one in five women passing away within a year. The odds are even worse for men, with hip fractures having the potential to shorten lifespan by an average of four or five years. Unfortunately, these dismal statistics haven’t been getting much better.
Even if calcium supplements caused a few heart attacks and strokes, it could be argued that if they prevented many more hip fractures, then the risk-benefit ratio might be favorable. But how effective are calcium supplements in preventing hip fractures? We’ve known that milk intake doesn’t appear to help, but maybe that’s because any potential benefit of the calcium in milk may be overshadowed by the increased risk of fracture and death associated with the galactose sugar in milk. (See Is Milk Good for Our Bones? for more on this.) Then what about the calcium in a calcium supplement alone? Calcium intake in general does not seem to be related to hip fracture risk at all. When people have been given calcium supplements, they saw no reduction in hip fracture risk but rather an increased risk was possible. In fact, the randomized controlled trials suggested a 64 percent greater risk of hip fractures with calcium supplementation, compared to a placebo sugar pill.
So where did we get the idea that taking calcium supplements might help our bones? An influential 1992 study found that a combination of vitamin D and calcium supplements could reduce hip fracture rates by 43 percent. However, the subjects in the study were institutionalized women, living in places like nursing homes, who were vitamin D deficient. They weren’t getting sufficient sun exposure. So, if you’re vitamin D deficient and then you take vitamin D and calcium, it’s no surprise your bones get better.
For postmenopausal women living independently in the community, the latest official recommendation for calcium and vitamin D supplementation to prevent osteoporosis is unambiguous: We should not supplement. Why? Because “[i]n the absence of compelling evidence of benefit, taking supplements is not worth any risk, however small.” This is not to say that these supplements don’t play a role in treating osteoporosis or that vitamin D supplements might not be good for other things. But, if you’re just trying to prevent fractures, women living outside of institutions should not take them—and this might even apply to those who live within them.
In a 2012 study, instead of giving nursing home residents vitamin D and calcium supplements, researchers randomized them so one group received sunlight exposure and the other took calcium supplements. Those in the calcium pill group had significantly increased mortality, living shorter lives than those in the sunshine group.
Although calcium supplements don’t appear to prevent hip fractures, they may reduce overall fracture risk by approximately 10 percent. If you’re wondering whether this means it could be worth taking them, here’s how the risk-benefit shakes out: If 1,000 people took calcium supplements for five years, we would expect 14 excess heart attacks—that is, 14 people having heart attacks who would not have had heart attacks if they hadn’t started taking the calcium supplements. They were effectively going to the store and buying something that gave them a heart attack. We also would expect 10 strokes and 13 deaths that otherwise would not have happened. An expected 14 heart attacks, 10 strokes, and 13 deaths compared with preventing only 26 fractures. Of course, it’s no fun falling down and breaking your wrist, but most people would probably look at the risk-benefit analysis and conclude that calcium supplements are doing more harm than good.
Dietary calcium, on the other hand, has not been associated with an elevated risk of heart attacks. Given these findings, individuals should be discouraged from taking calcium supplements and advised to obtain calcium from their diet instead. How much dietary calcium should we shoot for then?
Interestingly, unlike most other nutrients, there’s not an international consensus on how much to take. For example, in the United Kingdom, the recommendation for adults is 700 mg per day. Across the pond in the United States, it’s up to 1,200 mg per day. Whenever I see that kind of huge discrepancy between government panels, I immediately think scientific uncertainty, political maneuverings, or both.
Newer data based on calcium balance studies where researchers made detailed measurements of the calcium going in and out of people suggest that the calcium requirements for men and women are lower than previously estimated. They found that calcium balance was highly resistant to change across a broad range of intakes, meaning our body is not stupid. If we eat less calcium, our body absorbs more and excretes less. And if we eat more calcium, we absorb less and excrete more to stay in balance.
Therefore, current evidence suggests that dietary calcium intake is not something most people need to worry about. This may explain why in most studies, no relationship has been found between calcium intake and bone loss anywhere in the skeleton because the body just seems to take care of it.
Don’t push it too far, though. Once you get down to just a few hundred mg per day, you may get significantly more bone loss. Though there may not [...]