Calcium May Do Little to Stop Bone Loss in Elderly
WebMD News Archive
Sound advice, suggests Kenneth Saag, MD, associate professor of medicine at
the University of Alabama at Birmingham. But no one should ignore the
long-accepted cornerstones of bone preservation, he says.
"What's clear is there are a variety of factors, some more important
than others. We try to modify as many 'modifiable' risk factors as possible.
And we would clearly recommend calcium and sufficient exercise to increase bone
In fact, the National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends increasing calcium
intake past age 50 to 1,200 milligrams a day, as well as doing regular
Nancy Lane, MD, associate professor of medicine at the University of
California, San Francisco says calcium intake is vitally important in the
elderly. "As we age, we lose the ability to absorb calcium ... so calcium
imbalance is a significant part of bone loss." Bottom line, she says:
Elderly people need even more calcium than younger people.
As for exercise, Lane says it's important for the elderly -- especially from
a social standpoint, since they often do it in groups -- but also indirectly
for the skeletal system. "It improves muscular strength and neuromuscular
balance, ... so you don't fall as often." But, she adds, it does little to
- In a group of elderly patients, calcium and vitamin D intake were found to
have no relationship with bone loss.
- Researchers suspect that while calcium is important throughout most of
life, its importance diminishes with age.
- The National Osteoporosis Foundation still recommends that everyone over
age 50 consume 1,200 milligrams per day of calcium and perform regular,