A study from the Department of Medicine, University of Auckland, New Zealand, is the latest to demonstrate that taking calcium can slow or prevent osteoporosis.
The study, which recruited 122 women whose intake of dietary calcium varied widely, gave half the group 1000 mg of calcium per day and half a placebo, then measured the mineral density of various parts of the skeleton every six months.
The average rate of loss of total body bone mineral density was reduced by 43 per cent in the calcium group, compared to the group receiving the placebo. Bone loss was reduced by 35 per cent in the legs of the calcium group and eliminated altogether in the trunk.)
This compared to a bone loss of 1 per cent a year in the control group.
An accompanying editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that the careful design of this latest study now corroborates what 26 earlier and less controlled ones suggested.
Encouragingly, the European studies suggest that it is never too late to start treatment and that reductions in fracture rates can occur in as little as 18 months.
Dr Robert Heaney, who wrote the editorial, concluded that total calcium intake should be 1500 mg and vitamin D intake 800 IUs for women after menopause.