11/29/2016 01:41 EST | Updated 11/29/2016 01:41 EST

Calcium Supplementation Can Slow Bone Loss In Men Aged 55 And Over

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Elderly Male hiker

Osteoporosis. It's the cause of over 80 per cent of all fractures in people over 50. That's more common than having a heart attack, stroke, and breast cancer -- combined.

It affects us all at some point. Most of us think it's a problem that only women should care about.

Not true.

While osteoporosis and risk for fractures are higher in women, 39 per cent of all fragility fractures occur in men. Death rates for male fragility fractures are two to three times greater than in women.

Osteoporosis is a disease marked by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue. This leads to increased bone fragility and risk of fracture. Especially in the hip, spine, wrist, and shoulder.

One in two Americans over age 50 is expected to develop osteoporosis of the hip by the year 2020.

What Causes Osteoporosis?

Aging is the leading cause of bone weakness in men. Low vitamin D and calcium intakes are common secondary causes. Vitamin D plays a significant role in the absorption of calcium. Without it, calcium absorption is limited to around 12.5 per cent of dietary intake.

Most of the studies on the relationship between calcium and vitamin D supplementation on bone health have focused on women and children -- until now.

A recent meta-analysis published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism focused exclusively on men. The first study to ever do so.

This is good news for men as most studies on this topic have focused on women and children.

Researchers pooled data from nine studies including a total of 867 subjects with an average age of over 55 years. Data showed calcium supplementation, with or without vitamin D, slows bone loss in older men.

Make Sure You're Getting Enough Calcium

Calorie counting and diet tracking apps like Cronometer and MyFitnessPal are super useful to get an idea of how your micronutrient and mineral intake fares. I highly recommend you use one of these apps for two to three days.


Because the recommended daily intake (RDI) levels of calcium are 1,000 - 1200 mg per day. Yet the intakes for the majority of the men in the study ranged from a low of only 629 mg per day to 1159 mg per day.

Are you sure you're doing much better than them?

Remember, RDIs are set by the government to prevent nutrient-deficiency diseases. They're not necessarily what is an optimal daily intake.

If you're like me and can't seem to get enough cheese and Greek yogurt, you might have an easier time getting enough calcium. After all, dairy is one of the most concentrated sources of calcium. A cup of milk gives you 280 mg of calcium (28 per cent of your RDI of 1,000 mg).

If you don't consume dairy because you don't like it, or because it makes you fart, you can still get calcium from a wide variety of foods. Try including foods like kale, tofu, soy milk, calcium-fortified orange juice, bok choy, almonds, sardines, salmon, sesame seeds and chia seeds.

Additionally, you can look into taking a calcium supplement. Most studies have shown positive effects with doses of 500 mg to 1000 mg of per day.


Oaklander, M. (2014, January 10). 10 Dairy-Free Ways To Get Calcium. Retrieved November 25, 2016, from

Office of the Surgeon General (US). Bone Health and Osteoporosis: A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville (MD): Office of the Surgeon General (US); 2004. 4, The Frequency of Bone Disease.

Silk, L. N., Greene, D. A., & Baker, M. K. (2015). The Effect of Calcium or Calcium and Vitamin D Supplementation on Bone Mineral Density in Healthy Males: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. International Journal of Sport Nutrition & Exercise Metabolism, 25(5).

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