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Life Sciences | Nutrition


Alexa Evenson, Nutrition


Abstract: Risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) including dyslipidemia and hypertension can develop in adolescence and increase risk of CVD in adulthood. Improved blood pressure and lipid profiles are associated with higher dietary calcium intake in older adults, but limited data exists in young adults. Purpose: Determine the relationship between dietary calcium intake and CVD risk factors in a college-age population. Methods: IRB approval was obtained. Fasting blood samples were collected from 149 college students ages 18-24. Serum total cholesterol (TC), LDL, HDL, and triacylglycerol (TG) concentrations were measured using a LDX Cholestech machine, blood glucose using a Precision Xtra glucometer, and blood pressure (systolic [SBP] and diastolic [DBP]) using an Omron automated sphygmomanometer. Dietary calcium intake was assessed using the Brief Calcium Assessment Tool (BCAT) (1). Correlation between CVD risk factors and dietary calcium was determined. Unpaired t-tests determined differences between sexes. Results: Average daily dietary calcium intake was 804 mg (RDA for 18 year olds: 1300mg, 19-50 year olds: 1000mg). Mean calcium intake was 186 mg lower in females than males (p=0.001). Acceptable TC, LDL, and TG concentrations occurred in 85%, 92%, and 75% of total participants respectively based on guidelines for 20-24 year olds (2). HDL concentrations were normal 75% of participants and SBP and DBP were normal in 84% and 87% of subjects, respectively. Mean HDL was lower in males than in females (p=0.001). Mean SBP was higher in males than females (p=0.000). TGs were positively correlated with dietary calcium intake (r=0.221, p=0.010). Conclusions: Average dietary calcium intake in college students is below recommendations and over half (56%) consumed less than 1000mg and 29% consumed less than 400mg. The majority of participants fell within normal ranges for lab values. Education about meeting dietary calcium recommendations may be warranted in a college-age population. The positive correlation between dietary calcium and TGs was unexpected and may be attributed to the calcium sources and the relatively small sample size.

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