WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Women who take oral contraceptives cancounteract bone loss by making sure they have enough calcium in theirdaily diet, especially early in life, according to Purdue Universityresearch.
Earlier research has indicated that optimizing bonemass in adolescence and young adulthood prevents low bone density andosteoporosis later in life. On the other hand, oral contraceptivesappear to decrease bone density.
"It's estimated that eight outof 10 women in the United States use oral contraceptives at some timeduring the years in which peak bone mass is developing," said DorothyTeegarden, assistant professor in Purdue's Department of Foods andNutrition. "The results of our study suggest that the loss for thisgroup can be prevented by increasing calcium intake."
Accordingto the National Academy of Sciences, the recommended dietary allowanceof calcium for women age 19 to 50 is 1,000 milligrams a day. Therecommended daily allowance of calcium for adolescents age 9 to 18 is1,300 milligrams a day.
The 12-month study, funded by theAmerican Dairy Association/National Dairy Council, was published in theJuly issue of Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
Thestudy compared 135 oral contraceptive users to non-users between theages of 18 and 30. Three groups were randomized to receive one of threediets: control (less than 800 mg calcium a day), medium dairy(1,000-1,100 mg calcium a day) and high dairy (1,200-1,300 mg calcium aday).
At the end of the year, women using oral contraceptives andconsuming the medium- or high-dairy diet gained significantly more bonemineral density in their hips and spines compared to the low-dairygroup.
"These results suggest that many women who are using oralcontraceptives in their peak bone-development years could reduce theirrisk of osteoporosis by approximately 3 percent to 10 percent over oneyear by making sure they get enough calcium in their diet," Teegardensaid. "This demonstrates the importance of calcium intake, either bygetting enough dairy or with supplements."
Teegarden's laboratorycurrently is involved in a number of clinical trials to investigate theeffect of calcium consumption on body fat. Her studies have shown thata high consumption of calcium slows weight gain for young women, buther more recent studies show that it may take years to make anoticeable difference.
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