This study is one of the few that evaluated whether increasing calcium and protein from the diet — rather than from supplements — is effective and safe in preventing fractures in the elderly. It is known that long-term calcium deficiency can increase the risk of osteoporosis and osteoporosis.
More than 7,000 people in a total of 60 nursing homes in Australia took part in the study, in which a lottery identified homes that produced a diet richer in dairy products.
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In 30 accommodations, more milk, yoghurt and cheese were offered. Calcium intake ended up at 1,142 milligrams per day, and for protein the figure was 1.1 grams per kilogram of body weight and day. In the remaining 30 nursing homes – which formed a control group – the elderly were instead offered a menu containing 700 milligrams of calcium per day and 0.9 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight and day. The study lasted for two years.
According to the results, the relative risk of all types of fractures was 33 percent lower in the group in which additional dairy products were introduced, compared to the control group. The risk of hip fractures and falls was also lower among those given more milk, cheese and yogurt.
Regarding mortality regardless of cause, no difference was observed between the two groups.
Introducing a diet rich in calcium and protein is an easy way to reduce the risk of falls and fractures among older adults, according to researchers based in Australia and the United States.
For seniors in Australia, the recommended daily intake of calcium is 1,300 milligrams per day and for protein 1 gram per kilogram of body weight and day. For elderly people in Sweden, the corresponding figures for calcium are 800 milligrams per day and for protein 1.2 to 1.4 grams per kilogram of body weight and day, according to the National Food Administration.
More than 300 fractures and more than 4,000 cases occurred among the elderly during the study period. The median age was 86 years, and 68 percent of the women. None of the participants was deficient in vitamin D.
Read more in the summary:
Sandra Juliano Med Flair. Effect of dietary sources of calcium and protein on hip fractures and falls in elderly people in residential care: a cluster randomized controlled trial. BMJ, posted online October 21, 2021. DOI: 10.1136 / bmj.n2364
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