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    Research has shown that if animals are deprived of calcium that osteoporosis can occur, additionally, in humans it has been demonstrated that an increase in calcium intake can lead to a decrease in hip fracture rates.

    Bones are of course made up of calcium and other minerals, so it stands to reason that an increase in dietary calcium will lead to bone strengthening. However in studies where an increase in calcium is given to patients neither a decrease nor increase in bone density is found. The benefits of calcium supplementation mainly stem from the fact that most women are on calcium negative diets, and that there is an increase in the rate of calcium turnover in postmenstrual women. Therefore it is highly recommended that women partake in a diet that is calcium rich.

    Calcium requirements

    It is interesting that increasing calcium balance so that it is positive (typical intake of 1000mg in premenopausal women and 1500mg in post menopausal women) does not necessary mean that all the extra calcium will be took up by the bones, nor will it be guaranteed that bone calcium is taken up in a way that increases density and not just mass. However, it quite reasonable to assume that the supplementation of calcium in the diet is beneficial to bones in women with osteoporosis.

    It has been shown that there is an association in bone mass retention and calcium intake; although this is not as clear in the early stages of the menopause when hormonal effects are by far the largest contributors to bone density effects. There is a definite inverse relationship between calcium intake and hip fractures in both men and women. Additionally studies have shown that there is a reduced risk of new vertebral fractures in Mediterranean women who have taken calcium supplementation to a level of 1500mg a day.

    It is recommended that women take enough calcium either naturally, from foods such as milk, cheese, leafy vegetables and nuts, or by taking calcium supplements to ensure that they do not have a calcium negative balance. Although it is unclear if there are any great benefits to taken calcium supplementation that greatly exceeds the bodies needs. It is thought that the maintenance of a calcium positive diet will help in the fight against osteoporosis. For men the effects of supplementation in the fight against osteoporosis need further consideration; this is because there is a link between calcium intake and prostate cancer. Because of this the United Kingdom has set the recommended calcium intake at 700 mg for men.