The study was conducted at the Ohio State University Medical Center, tracking calcium's effects on bone density in girls age 8-13 for as long as seven years. The findings suggest that elevated calcium use by pre-adolescent girls is likely to help prevent fractures and osteoporosis much later in life.
"Because most bone mass is accumulated during this phase of growth, pre-adolescence may represent the time of highest need for calcium in a female's lifetime,” said Dr Velimir Matkovic, professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation and nutrition.
Calcium exerts its action on bone accumulation during growth primarily by influencing the volumetric bone mineral density. The point of the clinical trial was to evaluate the effectiveness of calcium supplementation on bone mineral density during the period when most of the bone mass is accumulated.
The pubertal growth spurt accounts for about 37 percent of the gain in the entire adult skeletal mass, meaning "inadequate calcium intake during this period compromises the bone mineral accumulation rate,” Matkovic said.
The biggest difference in bone mineral density between the supplemented and non supplemented groups of girls occurred from between one year before and one year after the onset of menstruation. By young adulthood, significant effects remained at the metacarpals in the hands, the forearm and the hip.
The average dietary calcium intake among all study participants was 830 milligrams per day. The supplemented group took in an average of an additional 670 milligrams per day. The researchers noted that taller individuals need more calcium during growth than shorter individuals.
MEDICA.de; Source: Ohio State University