Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

Calcium Knowledge, Dietary Calcium Intake, and Bone Mineral Content and Density in Young Women

Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

Calcium Knowledge, Dietary Calcium Intake, and Bone Mineral Content and Density in Young Women

Article excerpt

This descriptive cross-sectional study examined associations among calcium knowledge, dietary calcium intake (mg/day), and bone mineral content and density in young women. Participants were a convenience sample of fifty women between the ages of 20 and 45, (M = 35.24, SD = 6.53). During a single testing session participants completed several surveys: Osteoporosis Risk Factor Demographic Survey, Calcium Knowledge Survey, the Kaiser Physical Activity Survey (KPAS) and 24-h dietary recall. Physical characteristics and bone mineral content (TBMC) and bone mineral density (TBMD) were also measured during this session. In general, participants were knowledgeable about the health benefits of calcium, roles and function of dietary calcium, and dietary sources of calcium. Results revealed that calcium knowledge is not an independent predictor of calcium intake. Predictors of TBMC were fat free mass and BMI, fat free mass was the only predictor of TBMD. Women meeting the recommended intake for calcium were slightly older and had greater TBMD than women not meeting the recommended intake for calcium. Factors in addition to or other than knowledge related to calcium are influencing calcium intake and bone health in pre-menopausal women and are important to understand in order to reduce the likelihood of osteoporosis and osteoporosis-related fractures.

Osteoporosis and low bone mass affects more than 44 million Americans and of those affected, 80% are women (National Osteoporosis Foundation, 2005). Osteoporosis is a degenerative bone disease characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue. A major health concern associated with osteoporosis is an increased susceptibility to osteoporosis-related fractures (e.g., hip, spine, wrist). A major determinant of fracture risk in adults is bone mass at skeletal maturity or peak bone mass. Peak bone mass is typically attained during the later stages of puberty and a large percent of peak bone mass is accumulated during adolescence. By age 20, the average woman has accumulated 98% of her skeletal mass (National Osteoporosis Foundation, 2005). The National Osteoporosis Foundation (2005) has identified five steps to reduce the risk of osteoporosis: (1) consume a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, (2) participate in weight bearing exercise, (3) avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, (4) talk to your doctor about bone health, and (5) bone density testing and medication when appropriate.

Dietary factors, in particular calcium intake, clearly impact bone mineral density. Dairy products provide the major source of calcium in the diet and calcium intake is a modifiable determinant of bone mass (Golden, 2000). The dietary reference intake (DRI) of calcium is 800 mg for children between the ages of 4 and 8; 1300 mg between the ages of 9 and 18; 1000 mg between the ages of 19 and 50; and 1200 mg for individuals age 50 and older (Institute of Medicine, 1997). Most adults would be able to meet the recommended calcium intake by consuming at least three servings of milk, cheese or yogurt daily (e.g., 1 cup skim milk, 8 oz. low fat yogurt, 1.5 - 2 oz cheese). Currently, only 19% of females aged 9-19 are meeting daily calcium recommendations, 40% of females aged 20-49 are meeting requirements, and 27% of females aged 50 and older are meeting calcium requirements (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2000). In addition to reducing the risk of osteoporosis, adequate dietary calcium may reduce the risk of hypertension, colon cancer, kidney stones, and tooth decay. It is apparent that dietary calcium recommendations are not being met. Why are dietary calcium recommendations not being followed and dietary calcium intakes low?

Kristal, Bowen, Curry, Shattuck, and Henry (1990) suggested that nutritional knowledge influences food choices and dietary behavior. Inadequate nutritional knowledge may be a factor influencing the intake of low levels of dietary calcium. …

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