New Research on Supplemental Calcium

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bone-healthStudies recently published in the the British Medical Journal suggest that taking supplemental calcium does not boost bone density or prevent fractures as people get older.

In the new studies, scientists in New Zealand looked at the effect of diet and supplements on bone health in people over age 50. The first study found that increasing calcium intake from dietary sources or by taking supplements produced small (1%-2%) increases in bone mineral density, and the second found there was no evidence from clinical trials that increasing dietary calcium intake prevented bone breaks.

The researchers concluded that most people should get enough calcium through a normal diet with the inclusion of dairy products, vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage, soy beans, nuts, and anything made with fortified flour. Currently, the US National Osteoporosis Foundation promotes at least 1,200 mg calcium, plus 800-1000 IU of vitamin D daily, as a goal for women age 50 or older. Many also believe that few people can achieve these intakes through dietary means alone, and this is where nutritional supplements may be beneficial.

Duffy MacKay, ND, Senior Vice-President for Scientific and Regulatory Affairs for the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), responded, “Calcium is needed at every life stage for a variety of health reasons, including maintaining strong bone health.” He also noted that the studies in themselves did show a positive relationship associated with calcium and bone health, albeit a weak one. He went on to say, “As importantly, government data and the scientific report from the upcoming Dietary Guidelines for Americans have identified that Americans are not getting enough calcium from diet alone. Supplementing with calcium is a safe and beneficial avenue to address this issue of nutrient shortfalls in the American population.”

The relationship between calcium and vitamin D was also not taken into account in these studies. Calcium and vitamin D work synergistically to support bone health. It is not just calcium alone. In fact, other studies show that supplementation of the average American diet is recommended for vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, silicon, vitamin K, and boron, all of which are all important for bone health, along with regular exercise.

If you have questions about calcium or bone health, please contact us.

Photo from here, with thanks.

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