Should most Australians take calcium?

cottage cheese and milk

Calcium supplements have a role in preventing osteoporosis when dietary intake is inadequate, the The Australian Self Medication Industry has reaffirmed.

This was in response to the publication of data from the Australian Health Survey, which showed that across all age groups, only one in four females and one in two males met their dietary calcium requirements.

Only about 10% of women in the high risk group for osteoporosis – those over 50 years of age – had adequate calcium intake from their diet.

“While a balanced diet should provide calcium needs, calcium supplements can bridge the gap when dietary intake is insufficient to meet nutritional requirements,” says Steve Scarff, ASMI Director of Regulatory and Scientific Affairs.

“Calcium supplements play a particularly important role in preventing osteoporosis and osteoporosis-attributed bone fractures.”

The Therapeutic Guidelines: Endocrinology state: “Calcium supplementation can reduce the rate of bone loss. Supplementation may also reduce fracture rates. The benefit is most marked in older women with a low dietary calcium intake but without previous fragility fractures.

“For fracture benefit plasma vitamin D concentration needs to be optimised as well as calcium.”

A recent study found that the relative risk reduction of an osteoporosis-attributed fracture event given the use of calcium and vitamin D at preventive intake levels was 19.7%, ASMI points out.

The researchers, from Frost and Sullivan, reviewed seven randomised controlled studies that tested for a cause and effect relationship between utilisation of calcium and vitamin D supplements and osteoporosis-attributed bone fractures.

“Osteoporosis is one of Australia’s most debilitating and costly health problems, with approximately 1.2 million Australians affected.

“Because fracture risk increases with age, postmenopausal women and older individuals need to maintain good bone health through appropriate levels of physical activity and adequate calcium intake,” explains Scarff.


“Australians who are unsure about their calcium intake are encouraged to talk to a healthcare professional, who can provide advice on ways to monitor and if needed, increase calcium levels.”

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