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IntroductionIn recent years there has been an upsurge in interest in the relationship between calcium intake and osteoporosis and fractures. Most trials examining this relationship have been reported since the publication of the background paper for the revised Australian recommended dietary intakes (RDI). As hip fractures currently cost an estimated $175 million annually in Australia, clarifying the exact role of calcium in the prevention of osteoporosis and fractures in the elderly would be useful. (Kanis, 2004) Although diets deficient in calcium produce osteoporosis in а number of animal species, the multifactorial nature of the disease in humans, and the occurrence of menopause, makes determining the specific role of calcium intake difficult.

Osteoporosis refers to the loss of all components of the bone, including calcium. At the population level, osteoporosis is the overriding cause of low bone density in the elderly, although in specific individuals seen in the clinical setting, other diseases such as vitamin D deficiency may have caused bone loss.

(Baran, 2002) Osteoporotic fractures are those, which occur, in later life as а result of minimal trauma, such as а cough or a fall from standing height. The risk of fracture is inversely associated with bone density but other important factors exist, such as the architecture of the bone and the frequency of falls. (Compston, 2003) Hence, it is important that studies examine the effect of increasing calcium intakes on the outcome of interest, fractures, as well as the intermediate point, bone density, so that real projections regarding efficacy can be made. (Sowers, 2001)Background: Gain and loss of bone throughout lifeThe density of all bones increases greatly at puberty and continues to increase slowly for some years after the epiphyses have fused. About ten per cent of the total bone mass is added after growth stops. The total calcium...