Researchers find men need more than vitamin D, calcium to prevent osteoporosis

Bone health experts in Australia have determined that merely consuming the recommended amounts of calcium and vitamin D may not be enough to prevent osteoporosis in aging men.

According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, preventive measures must include exercise in order to be effective.

Currently, one in eight men over the age of 50 will suffer an osteoporosis-related fracture, according to the Mayo Clinic. The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) puts that figure as high as one in four.

To measure the effect of vitamin D and calcium supplementation on bone density, researchers recruited 180 men between the ages of 50 and 79. Each was asked to follow a careful regimen over the ensuing year and a half - which included drinking calcium- and vitamin D-fortified milk, performing weight-bearing exercise three times a week, doing both, or in the case of the study's control group, neither.

Before and after the 18-month interval, the team used dual energy x-ray absorptiometry scans to determine each participant's bone strength.

They found that men who exercised experienced a moderate increase in bone density. This group's bones were about 2 percent denser at the end of the study period.

Those who consumed calcium and vitamin D without exercising, however, did not experience the same effect. Though they consumed the amount of each nutrient recommended by health authorities for older men - 1,000 milligrams of calcium and 45 micrograms of vitamin D - they showed no gains in bone density at all.

While researchers were careful to stress that mature men should continue consuming these vitamins and minerals each day, they added that running or lifting weights several times a week is the only way to reliably build bone mass and slow the progress of osteoporosis.

By 2025, osteoporosis will be responsible for 3 million fractures in the U.S. each year, the NOF estimates.
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