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Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Aug;72(2):466-71.

Factors associated with calcium absorption efficiency in pre- and perimenopausal women.

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Departments of Epidemiology, Education, and Genetics, University of Pittsburgh, USA.



The amount of calcium ingested by an individual may affect several chronic conditions, including osteoporosis, hypertension, and colon cancer. However, individuals vary in their ability to absorb the calcium they consume.


The purpose of this study was to examine sources of interindividual variation in the efficiency of calcium absorption in women.


Fractional calcium absorption was estimated in 142 healthy pre- and perimenopausal women. Dietary habits, lifestyle factors, calciotropic hormones, and vitamin D receptor gene polymorphisms were also assessed.


Calcium absorption values averaged 35% and ranged from 17% to 58%. Fractional calcium absorption was positively associated with body mass index (r = 0.22, P = 0.007), dietary fat intake (r = 0.29, P = 0.001), serum 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D [1,25(OH)(2)D] concentrations (r = 0.23, P = 0. 006), and parathyroid hormone concentrations (r = 0.21, P = 0.015). Fractional calcium absorption was inversely associated with total calcium intake (r = -0.18, P = 0.030), dietary fiber intake (r = -0. 19, P = 0.028), alcohol consumption (r = -0.14, P = 0.094), physical activity (r = -0.22, P = 0.007), and symptoms of constipation (r = -0.16, P = 0.059). In stepwise regression analysis, dietary fat, dietary fiber, serum 1,25(OH)(2)D, and alcohol consumption emerged as independent predictors of calcium absorption, explaining 21.02% of the observed variation. Women in the lowest tertile of the ratio of dietary fat to fiber had 19% lower fractional calcium absorption values than did women in the highest tertile of ratio of dietary fat to fiber (test of trend, P < 0.001).


There is a wide range of calcium absorption values in healthy women. The amount of dietary fat consumed relative to dietary fiber appears to have an important role in determining differences in calcium absorption performance among individuals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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