Osteoporosis Prevention: Take Calcium. Part 1

Osteoporosis is a hideous disease that accounts for much sickness and death in post-menopausal women. Thirteen to 18 percent of women age 50 or more have osteoporosis, and 37 percent to 50 percent have low bone mass.

While there may be differences in occurrence rates secondary to ethnicity, one thing is certain: All post-menopausal women have some increased risk for osteoporosis.

In the United States, more than 40 percent of post-menopausal women will suffer some type of fracture including hip, forearm and vertebrae. As many as 20 percent of women who suffer a hip fracture will die within one year from fracture, and up to 50 percent may never regain full mobility and function. While this may sound ominous, the future need not be bleak. Osteoporosis is a treatable, and even preventable, disease.

Calcium supplementation is very important for all women. From research, we know that women need more than the former recommended daily allowance (RDA) for calcium to help maintain bone mass and reduce risk from osteoporotic fractures. The average female obtains only about 500 mg of calcium per day from her diet. While diets may vary, it is not easy to reach daily recommendations from diet alone.

In menopause, dietary calcium consumption often drops, and most women need supplemental calcium. The amount needed, however, varies depending on age and whether or not hormone replacement therapy is used. The Institute of Medicine gave its recommendations for adequate calcium intakes:

Age (years) Adequate Intake (mg/day)
14-18 1,300
19-50 1,000
51 or more 1,200

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