Many older adults don't get enough calcium

October 28, 2002 in Nutrition for Older Adults, Nutrition Topics in the News, Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements

Many older adults don't get enough calcium

Most American older adults are not getting the recommended amount of calcium each day, even if they take supplements, new study findings suggest.

Based on a nationwide survey of more than 5,000 people at least 60 years old, scientists from the National Center for Health Statistics in Hyattsville, Maryland found that between 70% and 87% of older people don't get enough calcium in their diet. Taking supplements allowed more people to meet calcium goals, but most continued to fall below their estimated requirements.

Nutrition and osteoporosis experts have long advocated that individuals meet recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) for calcium of 1,200 milligrams per day--preferably from food--in order to build and maintain healthy bone density. Loss of bone density can cause osteoporosis and increase the risk of fractures in the elderly.

The current findings are based on interviews with a nationally representative sample of more than 5,000 older adults, in which they were asked about what they ate the day before and whether they took supplements or antacids that contained calcium.

The investigators found that, along with inadequate calcium, between 35% and 45% of older adults did not get enough zinc. Almost half of the elderly said they took supplements, but only around half of the supplements they used included iron, zinc or calcium.

In a related study conducted at the University of Connecticut, researchers found that, in another sample of 217 healthy older adults, 63% of the group neither took supplements, nor did they get enough calcium in their diets.

So why isn't the message of the importance of calcium reaching the elderly? Older adults may try to get enough calcium, but are overestimating the amount they consume.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.