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Int J Sports Med. 2005 Jun;26(5):332-8.

Cumulative effects of calcium supplementation and physical activity on bone accretion in premenarchal children: a double-blind randomised placebo-controlled trial.

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  • 1Laboratory of Exercise Physiology, OrlĂ©ans University, France. daniel.courteix@univ-orleans.fr


High calcium intake combined with physical activity during childhood have been shown to improve bone mass accrual and bone mineral density. Our aim was to study the combined effect of calcium and exercise on bone gain in children. Two milk-powder products containing either 800 mg of calcium phosphate (calcium) or not (placebo) were randomly allocated to 113 healthy premenarchal girls on a daily basis for 1 year. The group was composed of 63 exercise (7.2 +/- 4 hours of exercise/week) and 50 sedentary (1.2 +/- 0.8 hours of exercise/week) children. The final experiment had 4 groups: exercise/calcium (n = 12), exercise/placebo (n = 42), sedentary/calcium (n = 10), and sedentary/placebo (n = 21). Bone mineral density (BMD) at 6 skeletal sites and body composition were determined by DXA. Bone age was calculated and the daily spontaneous calcium intake was assessed by a frequency questionnaire. All the tests were performed at baseline and 1 year by the same observer. BMD gains were significantly greater in the exercise/calcium group than in other groups at the total body (increase of 6.3 %, p < 0.05), lumbar spine (11 %, p < 0.05), femoral neck (8.2 %, p < 0.02), and Ward's triangle (9.3 %, p < 0.01). There was no difference between the other groups. These data suggest that calcium supplementation increases the effect of physical exercise on bone mineral acquisition in the period preceding puberty, and that calcium supplementation without physical activity does not improve the BMD acquisition during this period. Physical exercise that stimulates bone accretion needs a high calcium intake to be completely effective.

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