America's Teen Girls Lack Calcium

Blacks, especially, are low on the bone-building nutrient, study finds

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TUESDAY, April 11, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Teenage girls and young women, especially blacks, don't get enough calcium at a time in their lives when calcium is crucial to building healthy bones, a new U.S. study finds.

"The start of adolescence to about age 30 is the most important time to get enough calcium," study lead author Richard Forshee, of the University of Maryland's Center for Food, Nutrition and Agriculture Policy in College Park, said in a prepared statement. "It's that small window of time when they build the bone density that can help prevent osteoporosis in later years."

Reporting in the April issue of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Forshee's team analyzed national data from 1994 to 2002 in order to track changes in calcium intake.

They found that calcium intake increased for most age/gender categories, including adolescent females. Despite the increase, calcium intake among adolescent girls and young women remained well below recommended levels.

The adequate intake for calcium is 1,300 milligrams per day for females ages 9 to 18, but this study found average consumption in this age group was only 814 milligrams per day. Low calcium intake is especially serious among black females, the study authors said.

Milk consumption decreased among children ages 6 to 11, but was unchanged or increased in other age/gender categories.

"Changing diet and eating behavior is very difficult. We need to develop strategies for getting more calcium into the diet, especially of the very vulnerable population of young women," Maureen Storey, study co-author and director of the center, said in a prepared statement.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about girls and calcium.

SOURCE: University of Maryland, news release, March 29, 2006


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