Review: Protein + Calcium – May 2003


Calcium and protein in bone health.

Dietary protein has several opposing effects on Ca balance and its net effect on bone is not well established. It has long been recognized that increasing protein intake increases urinary Ca excretion. More recently, it has been observed that increasing dietary protein raises the circulating level of insulin-like growth factor-1, a growth factor that promotes osteoblast formation and bone growth. Other effects of protein on the Ca economy have been suggested in some studies, but they are less well established. Several studies have examined associations between protein intake and bone loss and fracture rates. In the original Framingham cohort subjects with lower total and animal protein intakes had greater rates of bone loss from the femoral neck and spine than subjects consuming more protein. In another study higher total (and animal) protein intakes were associated with a reduced incidence of hip fractures in post-menopausal women. In contrast, a high animal:plant protein intake has been associated with greater bone loss from the femoral neck and a greater risk of hip fracture in older women. Higher total and higher animal protein intakes have also been associated with increased risk of forearm fracture in younger post-menopausal women. In a recent study it was found that increasing dietary protein was associated with a favourable (positive) change in bone mineral density of the femoral neck and total body in subjects taking supplemental calcium citrate malate with vitamin D, but not in those taking placebo. The possibility that Ca intake may influence the impact of dietary protein on the skeleton warrants further investigation.

Dawson-Hughes B
Proc Nutr Soc May 2003
PMID: 14506898