Educational interventions can increase calcium intake and slow down bone loss among postmenopausal women, a new study presented by National Institute of Nutrition researchers at the International Osteoporosis Foundation's Asia-Pacific Osteoporosis Meeting reveals.
Researchers carried out a controlled trial in the Red River Delta in Vietnam involving a total of 140 women. The women, aged 55 years, had been postmenopausal for at least 5 years, and had low dietary calcium intake (less than 400 mg/day). An intervention group was given nutrition education counselling over 18 months to improve calcium intake.
After 18 months, the women in the intervention group had increased their calcium intake significantly. Testing showed that the intervention group's bone mass had remained stable. In comparison, the bone mass of the control group which had not received nutrition education, had decreased by 0.5 % (p<0.01). The PTH (parathyroid hormone) values in the intervention group decreased by 12 % (p<0.01) whereas in the controls, PTH increased by 32 % (p<0.001).
In many Asian countries, levels of dietary calcium and vitamin D in the general population have been shown to be below FAO/WHO recommended levels of calcium intake. For pre-menopausal women and men under age 65 the recommended levels are 1000 mg/day and for postmenopausal women and men over age 65 the recommendations are for 1300 mg/day.
This study suggests that community-based education programmes to improve intake of dietary calcium could make a difference to bone health and fracture prevention in the postmenopausal population. In Asia, with its growing population of seniors, such interventions could translate into significant health-economic benefits.
The IOF Regionals 3rd Asia-Pacific Osteoporosis Meeting is being held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre from December 13-16, 2012. Abstracts have been published in the scientific journal Osteoporosis International