Nutrition, physical activity, and bone health in women

Int J Sport Nutr. 1998 Sep;8(3):250-84. doi: 10.1123/ijsn.8.3.250.


Calcium and vitamin D can significantly impact bone mineral and fracture risk in women. Unfortunately, calcium intakes in women are low and many elderly have poor vitamin D status. Supplementation with calcium (approximately 1000 mg) can reduce bone loss in premenopausal and late postmenopausal women, especially at sites that have a high cortical bone composition. Vitamin D supplementation slows bone loss and reduces fracture rates in late postmenopausal women. While an excess of nutrients such as sodium and protein potentially affect bone mineral through increased calcium excretion, phytoestrogens in soy foods may attenuate bone loss through estrogenlike activity. Weight-bearing physical activity may reduce the risk of osteoporosis in women by augmenting bone mineral during the early adult years and reducing the loss of bone following menopause. High-load activities, such as resistance training, appear to provide the best stimulus for enhancing bone mineral; however, repetitive activities, such as walking, may have a positive impact on bone mineral when performed at higher intensities. Irrespective of changes in bone mineral, physical activities that improve muscular strength, endurance, and balance may reduce fracture risk by reducing the risk of falling. The combined effect of physical activity and calcium supplementation on bone mineral needs further investigation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bone Density
  • Bone and Bones / anatomy & histology
  • Bone and Bones / chemistry
  • Bone and Bones / physiology*
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Calcium, Dietary / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Estrogens, Non-Steroidal / administration & dosage
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Isoflavones*
  • Minerals / analysis
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / physiology*
  • Osteoporosis / prevention & control
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal / prevention & control
  • Physical Endurance / physiology
  • Phytoestrogens
  • Plant Preparations
  • Plants
  • Postural Balance / physiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Sodium, Dietary / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage
  • Walking / physiology
  • Weight Lifting / physiology
  • Weight-Bearing / physiology


  • Calcium, Dietary
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Estrogens, Non-Steroidal
  • Isoflavones
  • Minerals
  • Phytoestrogens
  • Plant Preparations
  • Sodium, Dietary
  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium