Daryn Eller

Q: Do men need calcium supplements?

A: Maybe.

Calcium is crucial for keeping bones strong, and it also plays a critical role in the proper function of the heart, muscles and nerves. Experts have long recommended that women take calcium to stave off osteoporosis, a disease that weakens bones and makes them prone to breaking. But what about men, who make up 20 percent of the 10 million people who have osteoporosis?

In a new study, researchers at the University of Auckland, in New Zealand, found that when elderly men received 1,200 milligrams (mg) of calcium daily, they increased their bone density within six months and had fewer falls -- which is significant, since falls in elderly people can lead to serious illness and even death.

So it seems at least some men may benefit from calcium supplements. However, “we don’t suggest that all men begin calcium supplementation,” says study leader Ian Reid, M.D. “There can be concerns about the safety of high doses,” and it may be that supplements are only necessary for men at risk for fractures, he notes.

It’s recommended that men get 1,000 mg of calcium a day through diet (1,200 mg if you’re over age 50).

That’s about 1 cup of calcium-fortified orange juice, plus 1½ cups of one-percent milk, plus 1 cup of broccoli. If you don’t think you’re making the grade, check with your doctor about taking a supplement.


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Health - Do Men Need Calcium Supplements?