Yesterday's news on the importance of taking calcium supplements with phosphate has been welcomed by the US National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board as part of its campaign to promote milk as a nutritional beverage.
The study, in the June issue of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, highlighted that widespread fortification of calcium in the food supply combined with the increased popularity of calcium supplements may be contributing to a phosphorus shortage.
Increasing calcium intake without a corresponding increase in phosphorus intake decreases the amount of phosphorus absorbed, which could be detrimental to bones. The organisation suggests that milk is not only one of the richest sources of calcium, but also a major source of phosphorus in the diet, thereby offering an ideal bone-building combination.
The research from Creighton University in Omaha showed that those who got their calcium primarily from the most popular form of supplements, which do not contain phosphorus, experienced too high an intake of calcium compared to phosphorus, and phosphorus absorption suffered. This would have a negative impact on the body's ability to repair the problem of osteoporosis.
Lead author Dr Robert P. Heaney said: "Unless your intake of phosphorus is generous, the ratio of calcium to phosphorus is very important to ensure that you get enough of both minerals, and this is particularly critical for older adults receiving treatment for osteoporosis."
The study also counters the belief by some nutritionists' that there may be an excess of phosphorus in the food supply, when in fact this mineral is crucial for maintaining bone density and preventing osteoporosis, the association said.
"When it comes to building bones, there are some real benefits of food over pills," said Heaney. "Milk provides the unique combination of both calcium and phosphorus, along with protein, vitamin D and other nutrients that are essential for keeping bones strong."
"Moreover, calcium and phosphorus are in an ideal proportion so there's not the concern of upsetting the balance of the calcium to phosphorus ratio, which can happen if you rely solely on certain supplements or fortified foods for your calcium," he added.
It is estimated that nine out of 10 women fail to get the calcium they need. Experts recommend at least three servings of milk or milk products every day. Each 8-ounce glass of milk provides about 30 per cent of the RDA for calcium and 20 per cent of the RDA for phosphorus.