4364.0.55.008 - Australian Health Survey: Usual Nutrient Intakes, 2011-12
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Calcium is a mineral required for the growth and maintenance of bones and teeth, as well as proper functioning of the muscular and cardiovascular systems. Milk and milk-based foods are the richest sources of calcium in the Australian diet, although it is also found in other products.1 Calcium requirements are higher for adolescents undergoing bone mass growth. Bone mass stabilises for adults, until deteriorating after about age 50 for men and after menopause for women. Low calcium intake is linked to osteoporosis, a low bone density condition particularly affecting post-menopausal women.2
Over half of the Australian population aged two years and over had inadequate usual intakes of calcium. Males and females have the same requirements (EAR) in all age groups except the 51-70 years. However, the prevalence of inadequate calcium intakes was higher amongst females than males, with almost three in four aged two years and over (73%) not meeting their calcium requirements compared with one in two males of the same age group (51%).
Females aged 12 to 18 years and 51 years and over have higher requirements than other ages, and were most likely (nine in ten) to have inadequate intakes. Similarly, males aged 12-18 years and 51 years and over were more likely to have inadequate intakes. About two in three 12-18 and 51-70 year old males had usual intakes that were below their requirements (67% of 12-13 year olds, 71% of 14-18 year olds and 63% of 51-70 year olds), as did 90% of males aged 71 years and over.
Children aged 2-3 years were much more likely to meet their calcium requirements (1% of males and 2% of females with usual intakes below their requirements). This is likely to be a result of lower requirements for calcium and higher consumption of milk products amongst children aged 2-3 years (dairy foods being a rich source of calcium).3
Source(s): Australian Health Survey: Usual Nutrient Intakes, 2011-12
These results do not consider the contribution of dietary supplements to calcium intakes. In the 2011-12 NNPAS, 21% of females had some intake of calcium from dietary supplements on a given day (9% of 2-18 year olds, 21% of 19-50 year olds and 28% of those aged 51 years and over). For males, 14% consumed some supplemental calcium (9% of 2-18 year olds, 15% of 19-50 year olds and 15% of those aged 51 years and over). The amount of calcium that was present in these supplements varied. A future ABS feature article will provide further information on intakes of supplemental calcium in the 2011-12 NNPAS.
Less than 5% of the population exceeded the UL for calcium.
1 Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2014, Australian Health Survey: Nutrition First Results - Foods and Nutrients, 2011-12, 'Table 10: Proportion of Nutrients from food groups', data cube: Excel spreadsheet, cat. no. 4364.0.55.007
2 National Health and Medical Research Council and New Zealand Ministry of Health, 2006, Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand, <https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/calcium>, last accessed 4/2/2015.
3 National Health and Medical Research Council, 2013, Australian Dietary Guidelines. Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council, <https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/n55_australian_dietary_guidelines_130530.pdf>, last accessed 4/2/2015.
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