Taking care of your bones is an important part of keeping your body in top shape as you age. When a person loses bone density or mass as they age, they can develop osteoporosis, according to the NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center.
The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion also notes that osteoporosis is a disease that affects approximately 10 million people in the United States aged 50 or older. Beyond that, more than 43 million people are at risk for osteoporosis due to low bone mass. Although this may be concerning, a report found that taking calcium supplements when you’re younger can help prevent osteoporosis when you’re older.
Read on to learn more about the research findings and for more tips on healthy aging, check out 4 Brain-Healthy Foods Recommended by a Neurologist.
In the eLife study, researchers from Wenzhou Medical University in China reviewed 43 randomized controlled trials involving a total of more than 7,300 participants under the age of 35. The trials focused on the effect of calcium alone, or calcium plus vitamin D, on bone mineral density as well as bone mineral content compared with placebo or no treatment. Of the 43 trials, 23 focused on participants who relied on their diet for calcium, while 20 trials involved calcium supplementation.
The results showed that taking calcium supplements before the age of 35 could benefit both femoral neck bone mineral density and lumbar spine bone mineral content. There was also an improvement in bone mineral density and whole-body bone mineral content.
“[I]Intervention before young adults reach peak bone density could have a greater impact on bone health and prevent osteoporosis later,” said lead author Yupeng Liu, a researcher at the School of Health Public and Management Studies at Wenzhou Medical University, China, according to EurekAlert!
“These study results are exciting because they shift our focus to a preventative approach to health care instead of a curative approach, where we only focus on health measures after being sick and sick,” Megan Wong, RD, registered dietitian at AlgaeCal, who specializes in nutrition for osteoporosis and comprehensive chronic disease management, says Eat this, not that!
The findings of this report also underscore the importance of starting to take care of your bone health at an earlier age than many realize.
“Peak bone mass, which is when your bone density will be highest, is reached around age 25-30. our bone density per year,” says Wong. “That’s why it’s crucial to build bone mass in your younger years. The more bone mass you start with, the less this natural bone loss will lead to osteoporosis and fractures.”
Wong also notes that “calcium itself is not enough to protect our bones.” Indeed, “for calcium to be properly absorbed and do its job effectively, it needs ‘helper’ nutrients”. For this reason, “when shopping for a calcium supplement, avoid those that only provide calcium and look for added nutrients like vitamin D and magnesium.”
Desirée O is a freelance writer who covers, among other things, lifestyle, food and nutrition news. Learn more about Desiree