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Calcium intakes close to recommendations reduce the risk of bone fracture

A new Australian study has found that people who consumed 1200 mg of calcium per day had a 20% reduced risk of bone fracture than people with low calcium intakes. Bone density was also higher in people with adequate calcium intakes. The addition of vitamin D influenced bone health only slightly.

With osteoporosis levels rising as Europe’s population ages, scientists are interested in what measures consumers can take to protect bone health. The study by Dr Tang and colleagues, from the University of Western Sydney, used meta-analysis techniques to collate information from different studies of calcium supplementation. The data comprised 17 studies on bone fracture risk involving 53,000 subjects, and 23 studies on bone density. Subjects were over 50 years and had been given additional calcium, often in conjunction with vitamin D, for 3.5 years on average.

The results showed that people who had calcium intakes close to the recommended levels of 800-1000 mg per day were less likely to experience bone fracture. The effect was dose-dependent in that higher calcium intakes, of around 1200 mg per day, reduced bone fracture risk to a greater extent than lower calcium intakes. Elderly people, those living in institutions, and those with a low body weight appeared to benefit the most from additional calcium. Adding extra vitamin D to the calcium-rich diet increased the bone protection, but not to a large extent.

The more calcium accumulated while young the more there will be in the bones when older. People should be encouraged to adopt a healthy diet, which contains calcium-rich food, and to exercise throughout their lifetime.

For more information, see
Tang B et al (2007). Use of calcium or calcium in combination with vitamin D supplementation to prevent fractures and bone loss in people aged 50 years and older: a meta-analysis. Lancet, Vol 370, pp 657-666.

EUFIC related material:
Nutrition-Vitamins, minerals & phytonutrients
Diet-related diseases-Osteoporosis

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