Calcium is one of the main building blocks of bones. Therefore, people are often advised to take calcium supplements to prevent osteoporosis, especially older women.
In reality, however, research on the benefits of calcium is mixed. Some call it completely useless, while others claim that it has miraculous effects on bones.
A new study in the Journal eLife clears up this confusion.
Because it’s not about whether you should take calcium, but WHEN you should you take it!
As we age, we lose bone mass. This is especially true for women, as their ovaries stop producing estrogen once they reach menopause.
This makes it tempting to start working on bone strength as we age, but a significant body of research shows that the rewards are no more than modest.
For example, people who take calcium supplements in their 50s and 60s reduce their osteoporosis risk—but only marginally.
Our bone strength and mineral density increase throughout childhood and adolescence, peaking somewhere between the ages of 20 and 35.
Accordingly, many researchers believe that we should begin working to build bone strength before we reach age 35 to prevent osteoporosis.
The authors of this study searched through several medical databases to survey studies on the relationship between calcium intake before age 35 and both bone mineral density and bone mineral content.
They found 43 studies with a total of 7,382 subjects.
They did not research the occurrence of osteoporosis directly, but assessed the use of calcium to maximize bone strength before it starts to decline.
They drew the following conclusions.
1. Boosting calcium intake before age 35 improved bone mineral density throughout the subjects’ bodies.
2. Dietary calcium and calcium supplementation improved the bone mineral density of the femoral neck, which is where most hip fractures occur.
3. Dietary calcium provided a larger benefit than calcium supplements for bone mineral density at the femoral neck.
4. Calcium supplementation between the ages of 20 and 35 improved bone mineral density more than that prior to age 20.
5. Dietary calcium and calcium supplements up to about 1,000 milligrams per day were effective, but higher doses provided no additional benefit.
Of course, you should still consume a sufficient amount of calcium after age 35. It remains essential. But it is important to remember that your bone mineral density and bone strength begin to decline after age 35. If they decline from a low peak, osteoporosis is definitely possible, though a high peak leaves you with some wiggle room before it becomes catastrophic.
Of course, if you have begun to develop osteoporosis or want to drastically reduce your risk of developing it, calcium alone is not enough. Thousands of readers have reversed their osteoporosis and strengthened their bones using these simple, natural steps…