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Tufts University reports high protein intake and calcium supplementation helps healthy bones

Boston MA -- A new study by Tufts University researchers reports elderly Americans who are on high protein diets and have adequate calcium intake can reverse bone loss usually associated with high protein diets.

In a randomized, placebo-controlled study, published in the April issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers from the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University (HNRCA) gave 342 healthy men and women over age 65 either daily calcium (500 milligrams) and vitamin D supplements, or a dummy pill for three years. During the study, the researchers reviewed the volunteers' diets (specifically their calcium and protein intake) and bone mass density.

The results show that the supplemented adults who ate a diet high in protein displayed significant positive effects on their bone mass density. On the other hand, for the volunteers who took the placebo, calcium levels absorbed into their bloodstream were reduced as they consumed more protein.

"Our results suggest that a higher calcium intake is going to be protective against any adverse effects of protein on bone, and may allow protein to have a positive effect," says Bess Dawson-Hughes, M.D., lead author of the study, and senior scientist and chief, Calcium and Bone Metabolism Laboratory, Jean Mayer USDA HNRCA at Tufts University.

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for calcium is 1200 milligrams, which can easily be achieved by consuming one calcium supplement (500 mg), one cup of fat-free milk, one 8-oz. serving of yogurt, and a 1-oz. slice of cheese.

The average protein intake by the volunteers in the study was 79 grams per day (g/d), and the adults who ate the most protein averaged 96 g/d. The recommended protein intake for a healthy person is between 40-60g/d. Elderly people may be on a high protein diet to increase their caloric intake, help wound healing and maintain muscle mass. Additionally, li
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Contact: Randi Konikoff
randi.konikoff@tufts.edu
617-636-3736
Tufts University
21-Mar-2002


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