Boning Up on Bones
Not For Women Only continued...
It's a lesson not widely known to apply to young boys. But
Connie Weaver, PhD, head of the department of foods and nutrition at Purdue,
says the notion that osteoporosis is only an elderly woman's concern is a
"Osteoporosis is rapidly increasing in men, yet all of the
studies to date have been in women," she tells WebMD. "Twenty percent
of the fractures are in men."
And because the bones that kids build as teens will be the
bones that last -- or fracture -- in their older years, it's wise to start
early, Martin says.
"It's important to consume a diet that will maximize your
genetic potential for the heaviest bones possible," she tells WebMD.
"Men and women will lose some bone as they age. If we start at a higher
point as teens, then obviously we can postpone and prevent factures."
As Weaver puts it: "You get more bang for your buck if you
build a strong skeleton when you are young."
Camp Calcium is now in its seventh year, though this past
summer was the first time the camp was run for boys. Funded in part by the
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMSD),
the camp has sought to answer these fundamental questions: How does the body
use calcium to build strong bones? And how much calcium should young people
have in their diet?
At this year's camp, researchers sought to determine the level
of calcium intake that would result in the optimum amount being retained by the
boys' bones. The boys were fed controlled diets that included from 1,800-2,200
milligrams of calcium (approximately six or seven glasses of milk) a day.
By analyzing the urine and feces collections, researchers will
be able to determine how much calcium is being excreted -- as opposed to
absorbed by bones -- at varying levels of dietary intake. Results from the
research will be published early next year.
"We want to see how absorption and retention of calcium
reacts to changes in intake," Martin explains. "Is there a point of
diminishing returns at which drinking more milk is not going to do any