Calcium Supplements - Effective or Not?
Should women still take calcium supplements to help prevent osteoporosis? Yes, according to the June issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter. Mayo Clinic doctors continue to recommend that women consume adequate daily amounts of calcium and vitamin D through diet, supplements, or both, even though recent findings from a large research trial question whether calcium and vitamin D alone can adequately protect women's bones. The Women's Health Initiative study found that women taking calcium may still be at risk of fracture if they have other factors that compromise bone health.
Bone thinning due to osteoporosis affects 8 million women and 2 million men in America. People often don't know they have the disease until a bone breaks.
Osteoporosis risk factors include:
Family history - Your risk increases if your parents or siblings have had factures due to bone thinning.
Body type - Thin or small-framed people -- those who weigh under 129 pounds much of their adult life -- are at higher risk.
Taking certain medications - Long-term use of corticosteroid drugs, some antiseizure medications and blood thinners can adversely affect bone health.
Lifestyle factors - Tobacco use, alcohol use, an inactive lifestyle, and low calcium and vitamin D intake can increase risk of osteoporosis.
Other medical conditions - A dysfunctional thyroid or parathyroid glands, inflammatory types of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis, or Type 1 diabetes may contribute to bone loss.
Although supplements alone may not adequately protect against osteoporosis, calcium is still an important part of a healthy diet.
As a general rule, daily intake should be 1,500 milligrams of elemental calcium and at least 400 international units (IU) of vitamin D up to age 75, then increasing vitamin D to 600 IU after that. In addition, regular weight-bearing exercises are important to bone health.
Discuss your risk factors and treatment options with your doctor. Several good treatment options can address osteoporosis.