Osteoporosis: calcium consumption does not change anything, diet and physical activity yes

Two studies conclude that calcium intake, through food and/or supplements, is not able to prevent fractures in the elderly and people with osteoporosis.

Calcium is essential for the bone and the recommendations for the elderly are usually higher than for adults: 1200 mg/d vs 900 mg/d. Such intakes are not easy to achieve, which explains the common use of calcium supplements.

More recently, due to doubts about the safety of calcium supplements, calcium supplementation through food is preferred. But neither of these two approaches seem to work…

Calcium supplementation hardly changes bone density

A New Zealand team examined the basis of the recommendation in favor of an increase in calcium intake to improve bone health and prevent fractures. The first study finds that calcium supplementation through food or supplements leads to a small increase in bone mineral density (1 to 2%), which is unlikely to lead to a clinically significant reduction in fracture risk.

Calcium in foods either

The second study concludes that dietary calcium is not associated with fracture risk, and that there is no clinical evidence indicating that increasing calcium intake from food prevents fractures. In an editorial devoted to these two publications, Karl Michaëlsson, from the University of Uppsala in Sweden, calls for a review of the recommendations inviting the elderly person to increase their calcium intake beyond that provided by a balanced diet.

Solutions to redensify the bones

Women who follow a Mediterranean type diet, rich in olive oil and low in red meats, have a higher bone density than those who have a Western type diet. Moreover, several studies have shown that a diet rich in plants was associated with higher bone density. In addition to their positive impact on blood pH, plants provide a high vitamin K content. This vitamin plays an important role in stabilizing bone structure.

Having osteoporosis does not imply giving up regular physical activity, even sports, quite the contrary. When we make regular efforts of moderate intensity, the bones must constantly adapt to the constraints. Our bones get stronger because bone-making cells produce more collagen, but also because more minerals attach to the bone to strengthen it.

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It is best to practice physical activity on a daily basis, even if it is only a 30-minute walk at a brisk pace. Physical activity (gardening, household activities, walking, DIY, etc.) and sports are only beneficial if you practice them regularly. If you stop them, you will gradually lose bone mass.

Choose the activity that suits you best. Sustained walking is the basic activity, it slightly stimulates your bone mass, improves the flexibility of your joints and promotes good secretion of synovial fluid, your joint lubricant. In general, opt for sports that fight against gravity and especially solicit the lower limbs and the spine, namely jogging, gymnastics and dance.


Bolland MJ et al. Calcium intake and risk of fracture: systematic review, BMJ,

Tai V. et al., calcium intake and bone mineral density: systematic review and meta-analysis BMJ,


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