Carotenoids, calcium and vitamin D helped boost bone density and reduce fractures in men and women, and DHEA increased bone density in women, in several new studies.
Doctors in a carotenoid study believe that the colorful red, orange and yellow pigments in fruits and vegetables help the body maintain bone density. Researchers followed over 900 men and women, average age 75, for 17 years, and found that those who consumed the most carotenoids overall had far fewer hip fractures than those who consumed the least. The scientists noted that for lycopene, the carotenoid in tomatoes, those who ate more than 4.4 servings per week had fewer hip fractures than those who ate less lycopene.
In a four-year segment of the study, researchers also found that bone mineral density of the hip in men, and of the lumbar spine in women, was greatest in those who consumed the most carotenoids.
A review of 20 vitamin D studies covering more than 83,000 adults, average age 78, found that overall, those who took vitamin D supplements had fewer bone fractures than those who did not, and that as the dose and amount of time taking vitamin D increased, fractures decreased. In May, 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration allowed a new health claim stating that vitamin D with calcium may reduce osteoporosis.
Doctors in a bone density study explained that dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), a natural hormone in the body that decreases with age, might increase bone density more effectively when calcium and vitamin D levels are normal, noting half of all older adults are deficient in calcium and vitamin D. Over 100 men and women, average age 70, took 700 mg of calcium and 600 IU of vitamin D per day, plus 50 mg of DHEA or a placebo. After two years, while there was no difference in men, in women, bone mineral density at the spine increased much more than placebo.