Osteoporosis and Calcium (cont.)
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How Calcium Helps Prevent Osteoporosis
Calcium makes bones strong. In fact, bones and teeth contain 99% of the body's total calcium, with the remaining 1% in intracellular and extracellular fluids. Bones act as a storehouse for calcium, which is used by the body and replaced by the diet throughout a person's life. If enough calcium is not consumed, the body takes it from the bones. If more calcium is removed from the bones than is consumed in the diet, the bones become fragile and weak as a person gets older, leading to osteoporosis and fractures.
Osteoporosis prevention begins during childhood and adolescence by getting enough exercise and the proper nutrients, including calcium and vitamin D. However, adults can help prevent osteoporosis in the same ways.
The importance of calcium in developing and maintaining bone mass (bone density) varies throughout a person's life. At times of rapid and significant bone growth (during the teenage years) or rapid bone loss (after age 50 years), calcium is more important. Therefore, to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, calcium intake should be the highest during adolescence and after 50 years of age. See Prevention of Osteoporosis for more information.
Coburn Hobar, MD
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