New look at calcium intake

Questions about calcium supplements for older adults are in the news. Recent studies published in the British Medical Journal found that extra dietary calcium intake was not associated with fracture reduction and that increasing dietary calcium intake does not prevent fractures.

However, says Mayo Clinic endocrinologist Dr. Robert Wermers, Americans aren't getting enough calcium in their diet. The median dietary intake in the U.S. for women age 50 or older is 589-649 mg per day and 728-777 mg per day for men. He says that despite the new findings, he recommends patients follow the Institute of Medicine's guidelines of 1200 mg of calcium in women 51 years of age and older, 1000 mg daily for men 51-70 years old and 1200 mg for anyone above 70 years of age.

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"The ability to maintain calcium balance worsens, and bone loss accelerates after 50 years of age," Dr. Wermers said. "Your risk of fracture also increases with older age. In fact, several studies have shown that calcium combined with low daily doses of vitamin D reduces fracture risk and increases bone density." Calcium supplements, he says, should be considered only if you do not get the recommended daily amount of calcium through diet.

-- Mayo Clinic News Network (TNS)