Background: Osteoporosis and related fractures are becoming more prevalent as the population ages. Primary care professionals counsel all women about adequate calcium intake as part of an overall osteoporosis preventive strategy. Population data shows that the average calcium intakes in women are substantially lower than standard recommendations. No data is available on dietary calcium intakes among a primary care population. This study looks at dietary calcium intakes and calcium supplementation among a sample of women attending 4 primary care clinics in Wisconsin.
Methods: A total of 210 women completed food frequency questionnaires while waiting to see a health care professional in the waiting room of 4 primary care clinics. The women estimated amount of high calcium foods eaten per day and frequency of ingestion per week. Women also indicated whether or not they were taking a calcium supplement.
Results: The overall mean calcium intake was 1309 mg per day. Women who were nonsmokers, postmenopausal, older, Caucasian, or who had been diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis had higher calcium intakes. Over half of the study population took a calcium supplement regularly.
Conclusion: Women in a primary care population in Wisconsin had higher dietary calcium intakes than women from population studies. Primary care professionals need to continue counseling women about adequate calcium and vitamin D intakes as part of an overall osteoporosis prevention program.