4 October 1999

Bones, them dam bones…

by Kate Melville

As osteoporosis becomes a large health issue for older men new research has identified that age-related declines in the amount of calcium absorbed by the body contribute to bone loss, especially after the age of 80.

In a research paper presented to the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research Dr. Randi. Wolf, from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, presented new findings from a long-term study he conducted. "We found that as the men aged, the amount of calcium absorbed by their bodies dropped, putting them at increased risk of osteoporosis," said Dr. Wolf. "This means that men should probably increase their consumption of calcium as they age to keep up with those losses and avoid the debilitating effects of osteoporosis."

The study evaluated the bone density of 234 men aged 58-91. Their bone mineral density was measured at baseline and again after 6.8 years. Low bone mineral density indicates the bone-weakening condition known as osteoporosis. At the follow-up, researchers also assessed participants' calcium absorption, body mass, dietary and supplemental calcium intake and a variety of lifestyle factors, along with blood levels of the hormones vitamin D, parathyroid, estradiol and testosterone.

The researchers found that calcium absorption decreased with age, dropping even more dramatically after the age of 80, and that higher levels of fractional calcium absorption were associated with slower rates of hip bone loss in aging men.

According to Dr. Wolf, "It appears that the hormonal form of vitamin D, which is the main regulator of intestinal calcium absorption, may have an important role. We are conducting more research to better understand the reasons for why calcium absorption declines with age in men."

So to all you men out there, the message is quite simple; to avoid osteoporosis you had better start eating calcium rich products now!