People who are lactose intolerant (they cannot digest the natural sugar in dairy products) tend to get less calcium in their diets than others, and are therefore at risk of osteoporosis, new research suggests.
Israeli researchers surveyed 66 men and women who were lactose intolerant and found that they took in an average of less than 700 milligrams of calcium each day, at least 300 milligrams less than the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for adults.
In addition, bone scans revealed that lactose intolerant men and women who had reached menopause had thinning in certain parts of their skeletons not seen in people who digested dairy with ease. Almost one-fifth of lactose intolerant people also had relatively high levels of the calcium-regulating parathyroid hormone (PTH).
Too much PTH can cause calcium in bones to dissolve into the blood stream, weakening the bones and making them more susceptible to fracture.
The researchers advise the patients with lactose intolerance to increase their calcium intake and to maintain optimal vitamin D intake. Vitamin D is also needed for healthy bones.
They noted that the current results may also apply to people who do not take in enough calcium in their diets, but that further research is needed to answer that question.
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