The Surgeon General Richard Carmona said in the report that by 2020, half of all American citizens older than 50 will be at risk for fractures from osteoporosis and low bone mass if no immediate action is taken by individuals, doctors, health systems and policymakers.
The study added that 10 million Americans over the age of 50 already have osteoporosis, while another 34 million are at risk of developing what is now America's most common bone disease. Around 1.5 million people suffer a bone fracture related to osteoporosis each year.
To prevent these statistics becoming reality, Carmona said it is imperative people of all ages receive an adequate amount of calcium and vitamin D. He noted that for those not getting enough of these vitamins, supplements may be helpful. The average adult under 50 needs about 1000mg of calcium per day and 200 International Units (IU) of vitamin D - one cup of vitamin D fortified milk provides 302 mg of calcium and 50 IU of vitamin D.
"Osteoporosis isn't just your grandmother's disease. We all need to take better care of our bones," said Carmona. "You are never too old or too young to improve your bone health. With healthy nutrition, physical activity every day and regular medical check-ups and screenings, Americans of all ages can have strong bones."
The lack of calcium in the average American's diet had already been highlighed in September when the latest update of the dietary guidelines was released. This noted that although Americans are still generally consuming too much of everything, most should up their intake of vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, potassium and fiber.
The Grocery Manufactures of America (GMA) had commented at the time that it was important for the consumer to be aware of the various sources of calcium, over and beyond the most obvious.
"Calcium-fortified foods and beverages are proven alternatives to dairy products for individuals who are lactose intolerant or who choose not to consume dairy products for religious or personal reasons," said Mark Nelson, vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs for the GMA.