Does Calcium Consumption Help Prevent Brittle Bones in Older Women?

Waste of money and effort?

Due to a lack of milk products, paleo diets may not meet the Recommended Daily Intake of calcium. Your blood must have a certain amount of calcium, and if that level is too low, your bones donate calcium to the bloodstream.

Many physicians worry that inadequate calcium consumption causes or contributes to thin, brittle, easily breakable bones in postmenopausal women. A recent study suggests that calcium intake doesn’t matter.



Calcium intakes are commonly lower than the recommended levels, and increasing calcium intake is often recommended for bone health.

OBJECTIVE:To determine the relationship between dietary calcium intake and rate of bone loss in older postmenopausal women.


Analysis of observational data collected from a randomized controlled trial. Participants were osteopenic (hip T-scores between -1.0 and -2.5) women, aged >65 years, not receiving therapy for osteoporosis nor taking calcium supplements. Women from the total cohort (n = 1994) contributed data to the analysis of calcium intake and bone mineral density (BMD) at baseline, and women from the placebo group (n = 698) contributed data to the analysis of calcium intake and change in BMD. BMD and bone mineral content (BMC) of the spine, total hip, femoral neck, and total body were measured three times over 6 years.


Mean calcium intake was 886 mg/day. Baseline BMDs were not related to quintile of calcium intake at any site, before or after adjustment for baseline age, height, weight, physical activity, alcohol intake, smoking status, and past hormone replacement use. There was no relationship between bone loss and quintile of calcium intake at any site, with or without adjustment for covariables. Total body bone balance (i.e., change in BMC) was unrelated to an individuals’ calcium intake (P = 0.99).


Postmenopausal bone loss is unrelated to dietary calcium intake. This suggests that strategies to increase calcium intake are unlikely to impact the prevalence of and morbidity from postmenopausal osteoporosis.

Source: Dietary Calcium Intake and Bone Loss Over 6 Years in Osteopenic Postmenopausal Women. – PubMed – NCBI

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: Elderly men get osteoporosis, too. But when the Emergency Department calls me to admit an older patient with a hip fracture, it’s a woman 9 out of 10 times.

Click pic to purchase book at

3 responses to “Does Calcium Consumption Help Prevent Brittle Bones in Older Women?

  1. I sent this to my mother. She had a concern: “I wonder if there is a difference when you are taking a bone building medication.” She was recently diagnosed with osteoporosis. But it’s hard to make sense of all the info out there. And her doctor is typical in not knowing much about diet and nutrition.

    I know you can’t give out medical advice online. Do you know where I could find the needed info for my mother? Is there a link you could offer or maybe point me toward a particular website that might be a good resource? If nothing online, is there a book that could be helpful?

    • There is a difference in these study subjects and women who are taking bone-building drugs. It stands to reason that the those in the latter group should strive to meet recommended calcium intake levels (or even a little higher), whether by diet or supplementation. An endocrinologist or rheumatologist with an interest in osteoporosis would probably be the most knowledgeable physician.

      • Thanks for the response. I’ll let my mother know. I’m not sure if she has ever seen an endocrinologist or rheumatologist. But I do know that she gets high levels of calcium and actually has done so for decades. There is always the problem of certain foods that might block the absorption of calcium and inadequate amounts of other nutrients (e.g., vitamin K2) that interfere with the calcium getting where it needs to go. It’s tough finding a doctor who understands such things.