Kerrie M. Sanders, Amanda L. Stuart, Mark A. Kotowicz and Geoffrey C. Nicholson
Nutrients 2010, 2(9), 1018-1025; doi:10.3390/nu2091018 Received: 3 August 2010; in revised form: 15 August 2010 / Accepted: 20 August 2010 / Published: 17 September 2010
We aimed to optimize calcium intake among the 2,000+ older women taking part in the Vital D study. Calcium supplementation was not included in the study protocol. Our hypothesis was that annual feedback of calcium intake and informing women of strategies to improve calcium intake can lead to a sustained increase in the proportion of women who consume adequate levels of the mineral. Calcium intake was assessed on an annual basis using a validated short food frequency questionnaire (FFQ). Supplemental calcium intake was added to the dietary estimate. Participants and their nominated doctor were sent a letter that the participant’s estimated daily calcium intake was adequate or inadequate based on a cutoff threshold of 800 mg/day. General brief statements outlining the importance of an adequate calcium intake and bone health were included in all letters.
At baseline, the median daily consumption of calcium was 980 mg/day and 67 percent of 1,951 participants had calcium intake of at least 800 mg per day. Of the 644 older women advised of an inadequate calcium intake at baseline (< 800 mg/day), 386 (60%) had increased their intake by at least 100 mg/day when re-assessed twelve months later. This desirable change was sustained at 24 months after baseline with almost half of these women (303/644) consuming over 800 mg calcium per day. This study devised an efficient method to provide feedback on calcium intake to over 2,000 older women. The improvements were modest but significant and most apparent in those with a low intake at baseline. The decreased proportion of these women with an inadequate intake of calcium 12- and 24-months later, suggests this might be a practical, low cost strategy to maintain an adequate calcium intake among older women.