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Br J Nutr. 2000 Jul;84(1):111-6.

Parathyroid hormone is elevated but bone markers and density are normal in young female subjects who consume inadequate dietary calcium.

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Department of Pharmaco-Biology, University of Calabria, Rende (CS), Italy.


Dietary Ca and osteocalcin (OC), parathyroid hormone (PTH), 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OH-D), insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I and sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) were assessed simultaneously to bone mineral density (BMD) in 200 adolescent girls (aged 11-15 years) and 100 young women (aged 20-23 years), selected from the lowest and highest end of the Ca intake distribution of a larger population sample. Ca intake was evaluated by food frequency questionnaires, BMD was measured by dual energy x-ray absorptiometry at ultradistal and proximal radius of non-dominant arm, bone age was estimated from x-rays of left hand and wrist according to Tanner et al. (1983). Surprisingly, mean Ca intakes were below the dietary reference intakes in the subgroups of girls and women with the highest measured Ca consumption. Postmenarcheal, but not premenarcheal girls showed radial densities as high as the women and in no group was BMD associated with Ca intake. In all adolescents serum PTH was negatively related to dietary Ca. In girls before menarche IGF-I was positively associated with bone age, while in the same subjects the negative relationship between SHBG and BMD pointed to the crucial role of bioavailable sex steroids on bone mass apposition in early puberty. OC levels decreased progressively with age, while serum 25-OH-D significantly increased after menarche. In conclusion, although in adolescents low Ca intake has not been shown to induce any immediate deleterious effect on radial density, the compensatory hypersecretion of PTH supports the need for an adequate Ca intake to achieve peak bone mass.

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