Lee WT, Jiang J - 35553 N - Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2008 ; 17(S1) : 33-6.
Calcium is important for bone health. Over the last 15 years, reference calcium intakes in Western countries have been revised upwards for maximizing bone mass at skeletal maturity and for prevention of osteoporotic fractures. Some of these reference figures have also been adopted for use in Asian countries. However, the scientific data based on for revising reference calcium intakes in the West was largely based on Caucasians. Limited human studies relating to calcium requirements and bone mineralization have been conducted in Asians in Asia. In children and adolescents, a trial has confirmed no effects of calcium supplementation on bone gains in adolescent girls after 7 years. A meta-analysis has also revealed that calcium supplementation has little beneficial effects on bone gain. Given that genetic factors, hormonal status, body size, bone structure, diets, physical activity, vitamin D status and adaptation could modify calcium retention and bone integrity, these factors need to be considered collectively to promote bone health in Asian populations. Furthermore, studies to identify indigenous foods rich in calcium and high in bioavailability are needed to widen sources of dietary calcium. Ethnic differences in calcium retention, hormonal status, bone structure, bone mineral accretion and peak bone mass are evident among Asians, Caucasians and Blacks in USA. Hence, reference calcium intakes for Asians are likely to be unique and different from those of Caucasians. More research has to be conducted in Asian populations in order to develop appropriate reference calcium intakes for the region.