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Loading up on calcium won’t eliminate osteoporosis risk, study says

Calcium is important for bone health, but medical experts have long debated how much calcium people should consume to reduce the risk of osteoporosis later in life. A new study suggests that the U.S. recommendation for adult women may be unnecessarily high.

The recommended dietary allowance for women ages 51 and older in the United States is 1,200 milligrams a day --  compared with the recommendation in the United Kingdom of 700 milligrams per day. The new study, published online Tuesday in the British Medical Journal, suggests that consuming more than 700 mg a day won’t help.

Researchers looked at medical records from 61,433 women who were part of the Swedish Mammography Study. Some of the women also completed questionnaires about their diet and calcium intake. The researchers then looked at the women who had fractures or developed osteoporosis in a 19-year follow-up period. They found that the women with the lowest risk of fracture consumed about 750 mg of calcium per day. Fracture risk did not decrease among women who began taking more calcium as they got older.

“Our observational data suggest that in the prevention of osteoporotic fractures emphasis should be placed on individuals with a low intake of calcium rather than increasing the intake of those already consuming satisfactory amounts,” the authors wrote.

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