Does Calcium Work During Menopause?

Milk might not build stronger bones!

New results published from a 20-year study of US women.

The Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN) involved 1490 women who were between the ages of 42 and 52 in 1996. The study went on for approximately 20 years. Researchers evaluated changes across the menopausal transition, one of which was bone health. Here are the results that were just released…

  • Compared to not taking calcium supplements, women who reported taking calcium supplements at baseline experienced less loss of bone mineral density but no difference in bone fractures over the menopausal transition
  • Consumption of milk and dairy products (ranging from 0 servings to more than 2.5 servings per day) had no effect on bone mineral density or fracture risk

Does this mean that calcium is unnecessary for bone health? 

Probably not. 

But it does mean that preventing fractures after menopause is more complicated than just drinking more milk. Here is a (non-exhaustive) list of nutrients involved in bone remodeling and strength:

  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin D
  • Silicon
  • Vitamin K
  • Boron
  • Vitamin C
  • Copper
  • Zinc
  • Manganese

And then there are the influences of protein, exercise, heavy metal exposure, etc. etc. 

The bottom line on bones? We need to address them as a whole-health issue.

Concerned about your calcium intake during menopause? Let’s talk about it. Schedule some time for us to meet over Zoom.

Bailey RL, Zou P, Wallace TC et al. Calcium Supplement Use Is Associated With Less Bone Mineral Density Loss, But Does Not Lessen the Risk of Bone Fracture Across the Menopause Transition: Data From the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation. JBMR Plus. 2020; 4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31956850/
Wallace TC, Jun S, Zou P et al. Dairy intake is not associated with improvements in bone mineral density or risk of fractures across the menopause transition: data from the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation. Menopause. 2020; 27: 879-886. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32404792/
Price CT, Langford JR, Liporace FA. Essential Nutrients for Bone Health and a Review of their Availability in the Average North American Diet. Open Orthop J. 2012; 6: 143-149. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3330619/