Taking calcium and vitamin D before vigorous exercise helps strengthen bones better than taking the supplements at other times, new research suggest.
The findings, presented at the Endocrine Society's annual meeting in San Francisco this week, indicate the scheduling of supplement intake may have more impact than the amount on how bones adapt to exercise.
"The timing of calcium supplementation, and not just the amount of supplementation, may be an important factor in how the skeleton adapts to exercise training," said lead researcher Vanessa D. Sherk, postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. "Further research, however, is needed to determine whether the timing of calcium supplementation affects the skeletal adaptations to exercise training."
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Previous research has shown high-intensity exercise can decrease bone mineral density, probably as a result of calcium loss during workouts.
For the new study, researchers tracked 52 men — aged 18 to 45 years — who were randomly assigned to take 1,000 milligrams of calcium and 1,000 international units of vitamin D either 30 minutes before or one hour after exercise. The results showed taking supplements before exercise resulted in less bone loss.
"These findings are relevant to individuals who engage in vigorous exercise and may lose a substantial amount of calcium through sweating," Sherk said. "Taking calcium before exercise may help keep blood levels more stable during exercise, compared to taking the supplement afterwards, but we do not yet know the long-term effects of this on bone density."
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the American College of Sports Medicine.
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