Critical Factors for Bone Health in Women Across the Age Span: How Important Is Muscle Mass?

Jasminka Ilich-Ernst, RD, MS, PhD, Rhonda A. Brownbill, MS, RD, Martha A. Ludemann, MS, RD, Rongwei Fu, PhD

In This Article


Our study results emphasize the effect of lean tissue as a component of weight that acts independently on bone mass at different skeletal sites in women across the age span. Furthermore, the data confirm the positive effect of Ca on bones, even in this cross-sectional observation, particularly in younger and older cohorts. Our data strongly support the importance of an active lifestyle to help maintain both muscle and bone mass, particularly in older women, in whom the significant loss of muscle and bone mass was noted. Measures of lifetime past activity were significantly positively associated with BMD in the whole body, spine, hip, and forearm, while brisk walking pace (measure of current activity) was significantly associated with the hip and forearm BMD in the older cohort of women. These results suggest that it is reasonable to recommend to our senior segment of the population that they engage in brisk walks of at least 1 mile a day, preferably every day of the week, and that they achieve adequate Ca intake.


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