Study questions effectiveness of calcium supplements on bone health

September 21, 2006 in Nutrition Topics in the News, Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements

Study questions effectiveness of calcium supplements on bone health

According to a review published in the British Medical Journal, calcium supplements given to children may have little effect on preventing risk of fractures later in life.

Researchers analyzed 19 studies involving over 2,500 children and teens between the ages of 3 and 18. Researchers found that those who took a calcium supplement had only 1.7 per cent better bone density in their upper limbs compared with those who did not take extra calcium.

While a small benefit was observed in the upper limbs, a benefit was not observed elsewhere in the body, especially the hip and lower spine, areas that are at risk of fracture later in life.

It's hoped that boosting bone mass early can minimize the effects of age- related bone loss and osteoporosis, since research shows at least 90 per cent of maximum bone mass is obtained by age 18.

There were several limitations to the study, which researchers recognize. While these findings cannot be the basis changing current dietary recommendations, they do highlight the need for more studies to fully understand the relationship between calcium supplementation and fracture risk in adulthood.

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