Harvard Men's Health Watch

Calcium supplements for bone health: Do you really need them?

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Calcium is required for good health, and you can obtain most of what you need from common foods.

Calcium builds strong bones—right? In general that's true, because calcium forms the bricks and mortar of bones. That's why you need to take in sufficient calcium from your diet to replace worn-out bone as you age. Being deficient in calcium can weaken bones, leaving them more prone to breaking. Vitamin D is the helpmate to calcium, allowing the body to absorb more of the mineral during digestion.

National nutrition guidelines say that adult men should get 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day and 1,200 mg if they are over 70. One of the reasons for this relatively high recommended daily intake is to prevent major bone fractures and disability later in life. But it's not as easy as it sounds.

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