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Calcium and Bone Loss

How does insufficient calcium intake contribute to the development of osteoporosis?

Our bodies must maintain a constant level of calcium to function. However, we excrete calcium normally every day. When we don't replace it daily, our body will meet its needs by stealing calcium from our bones, weakening them over time-a process that can contribute to the development of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis makes bones fragile and more prone to breaking, and is responsible for over one and a half million fractures in the United States.

Who is at Risk for Osteoporosis?

Today, osteoporosis is a major health threat for 28 million Americans. Half of all American women over 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime. Although osteoporosis usually affects middle-aged and older people, a wide range of factors contribute to the risk for osteoporosis:

  • Female
  • Menopause or estrogen loss in women
  • Small frame, thin build
  • Caucasian or Asian race
  • Calcium-poor diet
  • Excessive intake of coffee and colas
  • High fiber intake
  • Lack of weight-bearing exercise
  • Inactive lifestyle
  • Smoking
  • Excessive use of alcohol
  • Family history of fractures
  • Certain medical conditions and medications

How Much Calcium Do I Need?

Unfortunately, as many as ninety percent of Americans don't get their recommended daily amount of calcium. Recommended intake varies by age, but calcium remains essential throughout every stage of life.

Bone Chilling Miracle Drug
As seen in The Miami Herald and Sun Sentinel
By Barbara Lewin, RD, LD

The popularity of dietary supplements is at an all time high. We're looking at supplements to improve our health as well as to cure what ails us. As Americans we're often looking for that ‘quick fix' or easy answer-much to our detriment.  While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates claims made on product labels, it bears the burden of proof when it comes to proving that a product is unsafe. Part of the problem is that dietary supplements are regulated similar to food and do not go through the rigorous testing that is routine for drugs.  

Coral calcium is a blatant example of the power of infomercials and mass marketing. There have been claims made that this product can do everything from curing Alzheimer's to diabetes and cancer. This creates false hopes: many stop their traditional medications (chemotherapy for example) in hopes that this will be the answer to their prayers. By the time the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and FDA go after a company for making false and unsubstantiated claims-these companies have already made their multi-millions, not to mention the harm that's come to those who've fallen prey to these deceptive claims

Since it's going to take some time for regulations to provide adequate consumer protection, it's up to the consumer to make choices that protect their health. This means reading the fine print on labels and when in doubt, enlisting the help of a registered dietitian or pharmacist.

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Barbara Lewin R.D., L.D. Sports Nutritionist

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