Nutrition and Osteoporosis

  • Peter Burckhardt


  • A daily intake of 1200–1500 mg calcium is necessary for maintaining an equilibrated calcium balance.

  • Calcium alone is not a treatment for osteoporosis, but it is an adjuvant to medical treatment. Calcium has to be added to all treatments of osteoporosis

  • Supplementation by vitamin D is recommended in elderly osteoporotics and for prevention of osteoporosis in all elderly people living indoors.

  • Other important constituents of diet in osteoporosis are protein and vitamin K.

Nutrition has various impacts on bone. First, it contains constituents of bone tissue, such as calcium, phosphorus, and proteins. Second, it contains factors that influence bone metabolism indirectly, such as calcium, which inhibits PTR secretion and bone resorption, vitamin K, which contributes to the stabilization of bone matrix, and proteins as stimulators of IGF, which acts on bone. In addition, not only are the particular constituents of bone essential, but various foods as combinations of such constituents are also of particular interest, such as dairy products, meat, vegetables, and fruits.

The impact of nutrition on bone also varies over the main periods of life — growth and adolescence, mature adulthood, early postmenopause, senescence — in its nature and in its importance. Nutrition influences growth and development of peak bone mass and maintenance of adult bone mass, modifies postmenopausal bone loss, and has an important impact on bone loss and bone health in advanced age. Although considered mainly as an environmental factor, nutrition, in particular its impact on bone, is also influenced by genetic conditions. For example, the effect of calcium supplementation in calcium deficiency depends partially on the VDR gene allele. In essence, nutrition represents a modifiable factor in the pathogenesis of osteoporosis that offers the possibility for therapeutic and preventive interventions.

The major nutritional components of which their influence on bone has been studied are calcium, vitamin D, protein, and sodium.


Elderly People Calcium Intake Peak Bone Mass Urinary Calcium Excretion High Calcium Intake 
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© Springer-Verlag London 2004

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  • Peter Burckhardt

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