To reduce the risk of osteoporotic fracture in women, clinicians should focus on increasing calcium intake among women who are not consuming enough of this mineral rather than increasing the calcium intake of those already consuming adequate amounts.

This suggestion is based on the findings of a study conducted to assess the relationship between long-term dietary calcium intake and fracture risk. The project involved 61,433 women born between 1914 and 1948 and followed for up to 19 years.

Researchers found that low levels of calcium intake (<700 mg/day) increased the risks of any fracture, hip fracture, and osteoporosis. However, the highest reported calcium intake (>1,137 mg/day) did not further reduce the risks of any fracture or of osteoporosis, and was even associated with a higher rate of hip fracture — a finding that the authors emphasized should be interpreted with caution.

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Warensjo E et al. BMJ. 2011;342:d1473.