With the gains in life expectancies worldwide creating a swelling aging population, bone health is quickly becoming a major public health issue. The lifetime risk for a woman to have an osteoporotic fracture is 30-40% and men have a 13% risk. Low bone mass, or osteopenia, places many aging adults at increased risk for osteoporosis.
The use of calcium, usually in combination with Vitamin D, is widely recommended to reduce the risk of bone fracture in older people. Researchers from the University Hospital Zurich (Switzerland) reported that healthy men and women can benefit from calcium supplementation as well. Their study, which followed 930 healthy men and women (average age 61 years) for a period of 14 years in-total, found that calcium supplementation (at 1200 mg elemental calcium per day) reduced the risk of fracture by 72%.
Researchers from Deakin University (Australia), assessed the long-term bone densities of 109 men (ages 50+) who had previously completed a two-year long study in which they were given daily supplements of calcium and vitamin D3 (in the form of fortified milk). The team found that an average of 1.65% increase in bone mineral density persisted for up to 18 months after the supplements were halted.
Tufts University (Massachusetts, USA) researchers studied 213 men and 390 women, each age 75+ years, for four years. The team found that an increased intake of carotenoids, a type of plant antioxidant, was associated with some level of protection against losses in bone mineral density (BMD) at the lumbar spine in women and at the hip in men. In addition, BMD in the hips of men was also associated with intakes of total carotenoids, beta-carotene, and lutein plus zeaxanthin.
Be sure to incorporate bone-building foods into your daily diet. Good sources of calcium include milk, yogurt, cheeses, sardines, kale, okra, and tofu. Carotenoid-rich foods include carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, collard greens, and tomatoes.