Dietary calcium intake is a marker for total diet quality in adolescent girls and women across the life cycle

Karen A. Rafferty, Janet Barger Heaney, Joan M. Lappe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Six clinical studies of calcium and bone physiology were reevaluated to examine the characteristics of dietary calcium intake and overall nutrient adequacy. Mean reported nutrient intakes from food sources were derived from analysis of multiple days of food records (7-36) from 452 white girls and women ranging in age from 14 to 86 years. Subjects were categorized into 2 groups based on a calcium cutoff of two-thirds the adequate intake recommendation for the different life-stage groups. The prevalence of nutrient inadequacy was significantly greater in the lower calcium intake group relative to the higher calcium intake group for each of 12 nutrients examined. Diets that were identified as "poor quality" were the prevailing pattern among subjects with low-calcium intakes, whereas poor-quality diets were the exception among those with higher calcium intakes. Among the diets that were identified as poor-quality diets, 90% occurred among subjects with low calcium intakes. These findings suggest that low dietary calcium intake is a marker for multiple nutrient inadequacies and poor overall diet quality in women throughout the life cycle. Amending low calcium intakes with supplemental calcium does not correct other nutritional inadequacies that have been shown to coexist with low calcium intakes. Identifying individuals with low calcium intakes can help health professionals to target counseling strategies to improve overall dietary intakes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)244-251
Number of pages8
JournalNutrition Today
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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