More is not always better… I am not sure where the idea came from that calcium is the key nutrient for bone health; may be the dairy industry or something… However, medical specilists have been happily dishing out fruit flavoured chalky tablets of calcium carbonate with some vitamin D for years in the hope to stave off calcium deficiency and thin bone disease.
Whats come to light over recent times is the fact that its not calcium per say that keeps bones healthy and a high intake of calcium may actually be doing us more harm than good over the long term following publcations in the medical press suggesting that it may cause cardiovascular and kidney problems.
A recent study that was just published in the British Medical Journal looked at the relationship between calcium intake and risk for fractures and overall bone health. This was a very large study: more than 61,000 women, followed for 19 years overall, had a total of more than 14,000 incident fractures and more than 3800 incident hip fractures. This study suggests that it’s only the women who had the lowest intake of calcium, below about 750 mg a day, (this is a total intake value from diet and any food supplements) who had an increased risk for fracture, and then with increasing intake of calcium, evidence of further benefit for bone health and fracture reduction was very limited.
Just to throw the cat amoung the pigeons, the women who had the highest intake of calcium (above 1100 mg a day) actually had a hint of increased risk for hip fracture. The bottom line of this study was that more moderate levels of calcium intake were best for bone health and that more was not better!
Getting adequate calcium from the diet should not be that much of a problem with the use of low to moderate dose supplememts to make up any differences. Some of the best dietary sources are low-fat dairy products and leafy greens, fortified foods such as fortified fruit juices and cereals, and types of fish that have bones in them, such as sardines and canned salmon. As more work is performed on bone health it will become apparent I am sure that bone needs a wide variety of nutrients including a good supply of vitamin D3. Calcium from a supplement should supply 500-600mg a day and probably no more.
1. Updates Guidance on Vitamin D, Calcium. Institute of Medicine (USA) report
OsteoPrime, the original Dr Alan Gaby formula
Preventing and Reversing Osteoporosis by Dr Alan Gaby