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European Guidance on Calcium for Older Women’s Bone Health

October 17, 2017

By Reuters Staff

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – A new clinical guide from the European Menopause and Andropause Society (EMAS) emphasizes the importance of adequate calcium intake for preventing osteoporosis in older women.

After menopause, the EMAS recommends, women should get 700 to 1,200 mg/day of calcium, preferably from food sources. Getting too little calcium increases fracture risk, they add, while getting too much is potentially dangerous.

About 30% of postmenopausal women in the U.S. and Europe have osteoporosis, and within this group 40% will have at least one fragility fracture, Dr. Antonio Cano of the University of Valencia in Spain and colleagues note in the clinical guide, published online October 3 in Maturitas.

Adequate calcium intake throughout life is important for maintaining bone health, they add, but especially during childhood and adolescence - and also after menopause, when bone loss is accelerated for a 6- to 10-year period.

In reviewing the evidence, Dr. Cano and colleagues found that recommendations for daily calcium ranged from 700 mg by the UK’s National Osteoporosis Society to 1,200 mg by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. A U.S. study found that one-third of females ages 9 to 71 consumed enough calcium, they add, while women's calcium intake varies significantly among European countries.

The authors recommend estimating a patient’s daily calcium intake. “Commonly, though, clinicians simply apply the ‘better over than under’ principle, and recommend calcium supplementation in all cases, obviating the need for any dietary assessment,” they write.

Consuming too much calcium, for example 2,000 mg daily, could increase the risk of kidney stones, and debate continues over whether excess calcium intake increases heart disease risk, Dr. Cano and his team note.

“Women who do not wish to take supplements and who have problems in maintaining a diet sufficiently rich in calcium should be reassured that this is unlikely to affect adversely their fracture risk. Other measures, like physical activity and vitamin D supplements may help to maintain bone health,” they conclude.


Maturitas 2017.

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