The researchers recruited nearly 1,460 healthy women over 70 years of age for the study to determine their compliance rates associated with intake of calcium supplements (600 mp pills, to be taken twice daily). All the study participants had adequate levels of Vitamin D, a key component necessary for healthy bones. Much to the surprise of the researchers, the non-compliance rates in the study participants was as high as 50%.
This led the researchers to doubt about the usefulness of calcium supplementation as a preventive therapy. Probing into the issue, the researchers were indeed able to establish that consistent intake of calcium supplements did reduce the incidence of fractures.
Nearly 310 women were provided with calcium pills. Out of those who loyally took at least 80% of the calcium allotted to them, 10% suffered a bone fracture. This however is much less than the 15% incidence of fractures in 320 women who were given a placebo (dummy medication).
'The calcium supplementation regimen tested currently cannot be recommended as a public health approach to fracture prevention because of the lack of long-term compliance,' remarked the study author Richard Prince, University of Western Australia. The results of this study can be cited in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Osteoporosis, which predisposes women to fractures, is now becoming a major concern. According to statistics of the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 8 million of the 10-million osteoporosis sufferers in America are women. Post-menopausal women particularly are at increased risk of osteoporosis related fractures owing to progressive decline in the levels of the hormone estrogen decline and the consequent increased excretion of calcium.
Loss of calcium from the bones in turn decreases the flexibility and makes the bone more brittle, increasing the risk of fracture.