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Calcium intake benefits postmenopausal women

Women in early menopause who take less calcium are at a greater risk of developing osteoporosis than their peers who take more calcium.

Calcium intake benefits postmenopausal women

Women in early menopause who consume less calcium are at a greater risk of developing osteoporosis than their peers who take more calcium. But the fact that these women are also more likely to be overweight, and thus have denser bones, may help protect them from brittle bones. However, it is unwise to offer a choice between drinking milk and gaining weight for protection against bone loss, as overweight people have a higher risk of developing metabolic syndrome. Researchers from the University of Milan investigated how calcium intake and body weight might affect osteoporosis risk among women shortly after menopause. They evaluated bone density in 1,771 women who were not taking calcium supplements, estimating their calcium intake by determining how often they ate dairy foods. The more dairy the women consumed, the less likely they were to be overweight, and their average body mass index (BMI) — a measure of weight in relation to height — dropped as calcium intake rose. Calcium intake was not associated with osteoporosis when being overweight was not considered. However, when being overweight was considered in the analysis, women with the lowest calcium intake were more likely to have osteoporosis than were women with the highest calcium intake. Thus, in early postmenopausal women, a low dietary calcium intake may increase the risk of osteoporosis, but its negative effect can be offset by the greater BMI found in women with a low calcium intake. However, further research is warranted to prevent, rather than treat, osteoporosis and to find safer alternatives to oestrogen in modifiable lifestyle factors such as nutrition.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,
September 2007
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