Calcium intake influences the association of protein intake with rates of bone loss in elderly men and women

Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Apr;75(4):773-9. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/75.4.773.


Background: There is currently no consensus on the effect of dietary protein intake on the skeleton, but there is some indication that low calcium intakes adversely influence the effect of dietary protein on fracture risk.

Objective: The objective of the present study was to determine whether supplemental calcium citrate malate and vitamin D influence any associations between protein intake and change in bone mineral density (BMD).

Design: Associations between protein intake and change in BMD were examined in 342 healthy men and women (aged > or = 65 y) who had completed a 3-y, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of calcium and vitamin D supplementation. Protein intake was assessed at the midpoint of the study with the use of a food-frequency questionnaire and BMD was assessed every 6 mo by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry.

Results: The mean (+/-SD) protein intake of all subjects was 79.1 +/- 25.6 g/d and the mean total calcium intakes of the supplemented and placebo groups were 1346 +/- 358 and 871 +/- 413 mg/d, respectively. Higher protein intake was significantly associated with a favorable 3-y change in total-body BMD in the supplemented group (in a model containing terms for age, sex, weight, total energy intake, and dietary calcium intake) but not in the placebo group. The pattern of change in femoral neck BMD with increasing protein intake in the supplemented group was similar to that for the total body.

Conclusion: Increasing protein intake may have a favorable effect on change in BMD in elderly subjects supplemented with calcium citrate malate and vitamin D.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Aged
  • Bone Density / drug effects*
  • Calcium / administration & dosage
  • Calcium / adverse effects*
  • Diet
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Proteins / pharmacology
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Vitamin D / pharmacology*


  • Dietary Proteins
  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium