Calcium needs change with age

We all need calcium, but there are times in our lives when our intake of this mineral is most critical, according to scientists at the Children’s Nutrition Research Centre at Texas Children’s Hospital. Using numerous techniques to establish calcium requirements and bone mass, researchers noted that calcium requirements are greatest for pregnant or nursing women and prepubescent boys and girls. For children in this age group, calcium deposition is fives times that for adults. As such, it is critical that pre-teens get sufficient calcium and vitamin D to ensure bone mineral content.

Menopause is another period of high calcium demand. Scientists at the Center for Mineral Metabolism and Clinical Research at the University of Texas conducted a placebo-controlled study that showed calcium supplementation could help avert bone loss for postmenopausal women. In this study, 25 women in the test group were given 400 mg of calcium citrate twice daily for up to two years. The study found that while spinal vertebrae bone loss was negligible in the calcium group, women in the placebo group had a decline of up to 3.03% by the end of the two years. Furthermore, the calcium supplementation seemed to offer protective benefits for the spine even after the end of the two-year trial. The researchers noted that calcium supplementation reduced bone turnover and stabilized bone density in the spine and neck after menopause.

Sources: Am J Ther 1999 Nov;6(6):303-11;Proc Nutr Soc 2001 May;60(2):283-9