The effect of calcium supplementation on calcium and bone metabolism during load carriage in women: Protocol for a randomised controlled crossover trial

Charlotte V. Coombs, Sophie L. Wardle, Rukshana Shroff, Anton Eisenhauer, Jonathan C. Y. Tang, William D. Fraser, Julie P. Greeves, Thomas J. O'Leary (Lead Author)

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Background: Military field exercises are characterised by high volumes of exercise and prolonged periods of load carriage. Exercise can decrease circulating serum calcium and increase parathyroid hormone and bone resorption. These disturbances to calcium and bone metabolism can be attenuated with calcium supplementation immediately before exercise. This randomised crossover trial will investigate the effect of calcium supplementation on calcium and bone metabolism, and bone mineral balance, during load carriage exercise in women. Methods: Thirty women (eumenorrheic or using the combined oral contraceptive pill, intrauterine system, or intrauterine device) will complete two experimental testing sessions either with, or without, a calcium supplement (1000 mg). Each experimental testing session will involve one 120 minute session of load carriage exercise carrying 20 kg. Venous blood samples will be taken and analysed for biochemical markers of bone resorption and formation, calcium metabolism, and endocrine function. Urine will be collected pre- and post-load carriage to measure calcium isotopes for the calculation of bone calcium balance. Discussion: The results from this study will help identify whether supplementing women with calcium during load carriage is protective of bone and calcium homeostasis.
Original languageEnglish
Article number496
JournalBMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jun 2023


  • Bone metabolism
  • Calcium
  • Exercise
  • Load carriage
  • Supplement

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