1986. Tab's Really Better Now. Reprinted from the UW Daily
Heston T, Chesnut CH III: Tab's really better now [Letter]. The Daily of the University of Washington 1986;93(141):5.
Skip Card's editorial (5/14) stated osteoporosis affects only a small proportion of women, however, the opposite is true. Among women over 45, osteoporosis is more common than heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or breast cancer. A subgroup of the osteoporotic female population of the United States has undoubtedly incurred their disease due to calcium deficiency. Calcium repletion, through dietary measures or supplements, has been shown to be of value in stabilizing their osteoporosis.
More importantly, calcium intake may provide significant prophylaxis for osteoporosis, particularly in the teenage and early 20s female age groups. Calcium is safe (in the absence of kidney stones), relatively inexpensive, and logistically simple to take. Its usage in the female population appears quite reasonable at this time.
Americans consume about 450 to 550 mg. of calcium daily, yet the National Research Council suggests 800, and latest studies indicate 1000 to 1500 as optimal for the college-aged. For those who cut out dairy products because of weight, cholesterol, and/or allergies, attaining good levels of dietary calcium may be facilitated with supplements. Soft drinks generally should be minimized, although supplementation of soft drinks with calcium may prove beneficial.
(Charles H. Chesnut III, M.D., is a Professor of Medicine and Radiology at the University of Washington. He also is the director of the Osteoporosis Research Center at the University Hospital in Seattle)
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