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Back to Bone Health and Osteoporosis

Role of Calcium Supplements in Bone Health

Several studies have demonstrated that milk products are superior to calcium supplements alone, likely due to the role of other nutrients found in milk products that have also been shown to be important for bone health. Only one head-to-head study has addressed the role of calcium supplements versus milk products.

A randomized placebo-controlled trial assessed the impact of calcium from pills versus food on bone health outcomes in girls aged 10 to 12 years:1

  • 195 healthy girls at Tanner stage I-II were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 groups:
    • calcium (1,000 mg) + vitamin D3 (200 IU),
    • calcium (1,000 mg),
    • cheese (providing 1,000 mg calcium)
    • placebo.
  • Primary outcomes were bone indexes of the hip, spine and whole body by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry and of the radius and tibia by peripheral quantitative computed tomography;
  • Baseline calcium intakes were < 900 mg/day;
  • The group that received calcium supplementation via cheese consumption resulted in significantly better outcomes than any of the other groups with respect to changes in cortical thickness of the tibia and in higher whole-body bone mineral density than the placebo treatment group when compliance was > 50%;
  • Increasing calcium intake through cheese consumption appears to be more beneficial for cortical bone mass accrual than the administration of supplements containing a similar amount of calcium.

Keywords: health studies , bone health

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