Balancing calcium for optimal bone health

Dietary supplementation and food fortification with the essential mineral calcium support bone remineralization so that osteoporosis is no longer an inevitable part of growing old for many people

As the principal component of bones, calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body. It also plays a key role in maintaining the proper function of nerves and muscles. As our bodies are unable to produce their own calcium, a regular dietary intake is essential. However, this can be difficult for many people – particularly for those who avoid dairy products, such as people who are lactose-intolerant or who follow a vegan diet. In addition, the daily recommended calcium intake is not always achievable through diet alone, so having food products enriched with calcium will help to build strong bones, especially in advanced age. Postmenopausal women and men over the age of 70 need additional calcium in order to slow down bone loss. For these people, calcium supplements or calcium-enriched foods can help to ensure that they obtain the recommended dietary amount for their particular life stage.

Osteoporosis: a silent epidemic

From the moment of birth until young adulthood, bones are constantly developing and strengthening. Strong bones are built as a result of a good balance between calcium intake and the body’s natural calcium usage – i.e. between the formation of new bone mass and the resorption of old bone. The entire skeleton is rejuvenated every ten years in healthy adults. When we age, however, the regeneration process moves out of balance and the loss of bone mass outpaces the growth of new bone. As a consequence, the skeleton becomes porous, brittle and prone to fractures. When this process reaches a certain stage, it is classed as osteoporosis. The loss of bone in osteoporosis is undetected and insidious. For this reason, osteoporosis is commonly referred to as a “silent epidemic”.

This article is available in full in the SupplySide West 2017 issue of Nutraceuticals Now

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