Asia’s Calcium Intake “Alarmingly Low”

Scientists of the International Osteoporosis Foundation have discovered that Southern and Eastern Asians had the world’s lowest average calcium intakes.

AsianScientist (Nov. 3, 2017) – In a study published in Osteoporosis International, scientists of the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) research committee found that Southern and Eastern Asia had the world’s lowest average calcium intakes.

Calcium is a major building block of bone, accounting for about 30 to 35 percent of its mass and much of its strength. The impact of calcium intake is most significant during adolescence, when the skeleton gains bone mass, and during later life when bone loss occurs at a rate of about one percent per year, resulting in calcium loss of approximately 15 g per year. A major concern is that in countries with sub-optimal dietary calcium intake, the population may be putting itself at increased risk of osteoporosis and related fractures.

The researchers looked at the scientific literature and other data sources for eligible studies that reported national averages of daily calcium intake among adults around the world. The studies varied widely, including by how nationally representative they were, and by their sample size. Nevertheless, there were enough eligible data for 74 countries, which revealed several notable regional trends:

Across the 74 countries with data, average national dietary calcium intake ranges from 175 to 1,233 milligrams per day (mg/day). Southern and Eastern Asia had world’s lowest average calcium intakes—often less than 400 mg/day.

Countries in South America and Africa mostly had average intakes in the mid-range, between about 400 and 700 mg/day. Only Northern European countries registered calcium intakes greater than 1,000 mg/day. Significant variation was seen within regions as well. For example, in Latin America, Colombia showed one of the world’s lowest intakes with 297 mg/day while in Mexico the daily average was found to be 805 mg/day.

Average calcium intake was generally lower in women than in men, but there were no clear patterns across countries regarding relative calcium intake by age, sex or socioeconomic status.

“In many parts of the world there is lower intake than there should be for good bone health. While consumption is highest among adults in North America and Europe, it is alarmingly low in Asia and in some of the world’s most populous countries, including in China, India and Indonesia,” said study’s lead author, Associate Professor Ethan Balk at the Center for Evidence Synthesis in Health, Brown University School of Public Health.

The IOF expects that the data will motivate action to promote increased calcium consumption, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region and in places where calcium consumption hasn’t been documented. An interactive online global map representing the study findings will be launched by the IOF at the World Congress on Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases in April 2018.

“This study draws attention to regions where calcium intake needs to be assessed and where measures to increase calcium intake would likely provide skeletal benefits for the population,” said Dr. Bess Dawson-Hughes, chair of the IOF Calcium Steering Committee. “This is a necessary first step in developing culturally appropriate strategies and policies to address the deficiency.”

The article can be found at: Balk et al. (2017) Global Dietary Calcium Intake Among Adults: A Systematic Review.


Source: International Osteoporosis Foundation; Photo: Shutterstock.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

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