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Nutrient - Calcium and vitamin D may boost teenagers' bone health

By Holly Taylor BSc(Hons) DipCNM MBANT NTCC

A new study, published in the journal Osteoporosis International, suggests that supplements of calcium and vitamin D may boost the bone health of teenage girls and potentially reduce the risk of osteoporosis later in life.

 Commonly, prevention of osteoporosis focuses on attempting to boost bone density in high-risk, post-menopausal women by improved diet or using supplements. However, about 35% of a mature adult's peak bone mass is built up during the teenage years, so maximising the build-up of bone during this important time is also vital. 

To study the effects of calcium and vitamin D supplementation in teenagers, researchers from Australia recruited 20 pairs of identical twins and randomly assigned one from each set of twins to receive a combination of 400iu vitamin D and 800mg of calcium, while the other twin received dummy pills for six months. To monitor the process, bone density and bone strength measurements were taken from all the participants before and after the test period.

The results showed that the girls taking the calcium and vitamin D supplements had increased bone area, density and strength. These findings support previous research, including results from an 18-month randomised trial by scientists at the University of Sheffield in the UK, which found that daily calcium supplements were associated with increases in bone mineral content and density. 

Article References

Greene DA and Naughton GA. Calcium and vitamin-D supplementation on bone structural properties in peripubertal female identical twins: a randomised controlled trial. Osteoporos Int. 2011; 22(2):489-98.

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