Calcium helps elderly

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 June, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 June, 1993, 12:00am

WHEN it comes to preventing brittle bones in the elderly, a little calcium may be good but more may be better, according to a University of Auckland (New Zealand) study.

The new research has found that the calcium equivalent of five cups of skim milk a day - 1,500 milligrams - can significantly reduce the bone deterioration of osteoporosis.

Five New Zealand researchers led by Dr Ian Reid compared the bones of women who got placebos with those of women who received an extra 1,000 milligrams of calcium each day. The 122 volunteers received a base amount of 750 milligrams of calcium in their diet per day.

After two years of treatment, the rate of bone deterioration in the calcium tablet recipients declined by 43 per cent. The beneficial effects were seen in bones throughout the skeleton.

While it is an easily ingested amount, 1,500 milligrams of calcium a day represents two to three times the intake of most adult women in the United States.

Medical experts said the weight of evidence about calcium and vitamin D removed any doubt about whether doctors should recommend calcium for elderly women.