The Brittish National Osteoporosis Society (NOS) is warning that the current eating habits of teenagers and young adults is a ticking time bomb for their bones and time is running out for them to prevent permanent damage.
A survey carried out on behalf of the NOS has found that 70% of 18 – 35 year olds are currently, or have previously been, dieting. In addition, 20% had cut or significantly reduced dairy in their diet. Dairy is an important source of calcium, vital in building bone strength when you are young.
Maintaining a calcium intake of at least 1000-1200 mg/day has long been recommended for older individuals to treat and prevent osteoporosis. Calcium supplements are commonly taken to achieve such intakes, which are considerably higher than the average intake of calcium in the diet in older people in Western countries, around 700-900 mg/day. Recently, concerns have emerged about the risk-benefit profile of calcium supplements. The small reductions in total fractures seem outweighed by the moderate risk of minor side effects such as constipation, coupled with the small risk of severe side effects such as cardiovascular events, kidney stones, and admission to hospital with acute gastrointestinal symptoms.
The study concludes: Increasing calcium intake from dietary sources or by taking calcium supplements produces small non-progressive increases in BMD, which are unlikely to lead to a clinically significant reduction in risk of fracture.
Read the study in British Medical Journal