Increasing calcium intake is a common -- yet not always successful -- strategy for reducing bone fractures. But a study supported in part by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) underscores the importance of vitamin D and its ability to help the body utilize calcium. The study also may explain why increasing calcium alone isn't always successful in dealing with this problem. Currently, calcium intake recommendations are not tied to vitamin D status, which may explain why markedly different recommended calcium intakes exist among countries. In the United States, the recommended calcium intake is 1,200 milligrams (mg) daily for adults aged 50 and older.
The study involved a close look at about 10,000 men and women aged 20 and older participating in a nationally representative survey. Blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D are used as the primary indicator of vitamin D adequacy. Within the study sample of U.S. adults, a large fraction of younger and older adults were below a suggested desirable serum vitamin D concentration of at least 75 nanomoles-per-liter (nmol/L). The study supports the idea that correcting inadequate blood levels of vitamin D is more important than increasing dietary calcium intake beyond 566 mg a day among women and 626 mg a day among men for better bone mineral density. For example, a higher calcium intake beyond 566 mg a day may only be important among women whose vitamin D concentrations are low (less than 50 nmol/L), according to authors.
Bonnie - as we have known for a while, it is how the calcium is absorbed, not the actual amount. This is another crucial study that needs to be taken into account for any optimal bone protocol.