In earlier observational work, the dietary calcium:protein ratio was directly related to bone accrual in healthy postadolescent women. In this study, we sought to test the hypothesis that augmented calcium intake would increase postadolescent skeletal consolidation, using a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled design. We recruited 152 healthy young women (age 23.1 ± 2.7 y, BMI 22.5 ± 3.0 kg/m2); their usual diets, as assessed by 7-d food diaries, were low in calcium (605 ± 181 mg/d; 15.1 ± 4.5 mmol/d) and in the calcium:protein ratio (10.1 ± 2.0 mg/g). The subjects were randomly assigned to supplemental calcium [500 mg calcium (12.5 mmol) as the carbonate, 3 times/d, with meals] or placebo capsules identical in appearance; all participants also took a daily multivitamin, and they were followed for up to 36 mo with bone densitometry (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry; DXA) at 6-mo intervals. A total of 121 subjects remained in the study for at least 12 mo (median time in the study, 35 mo), with a mean compliance level (observed/expected tablet consumption) of 87.7%. DXA data for these 121 subjects indicated modest but significant mean rates of increase (i.e., 0.24 to 1.10%/y) in bone mineral content (BMC; total body, total hip, and lumbar spine) and in lumbar spine bone mineral density (BMD) but no change in total hip BMD. None of these rates of change differed by group, i.e., calcium supplementation did not have any measurable effect on bone mass accrual. By midstudy, the calcium content of the subjects' usual diets for both groups had risen by ∼15%. The combined effect of improved intakes of dietary calcium and the small amount of calcium added by the multivitamin tablets resulted in a mean calcium intake for the control group > 800 mg (20 mmol)/d, possibly at or near the threshold beyond which additional calcium has no further effect on bone accrual.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Nutrition and Dietetics