Calcium Supplement: Health Claims Under Fire

 

In a combined analysis of 5 studies, investigators found that calcium supplements were associated with about a 30% increase in the incidence of heart attack.

 

That’s why it’s important to keep current on the latest research.  Things change as our research capabilities progress.  Here are the details: The risk of heart attack with calcium supplements was greater in those with higher dietary calcium intake.   Age, sex, and type of supplement made no difference. But, in this study, 88% were women, this being significant because heart disease differs greatly between sexes.

It’s suggested that the calcium in supplements may cause the fatty plaques in your arteries to harden, causing atherosclerosis.  And although much data shows that vitamin D is protective from a cardiovascular standpoint, studies with vitamin D were omitted.

And if that’s not bad enough, the study also revealed an alarming fact that calcium supplements play a limited to no benefit at all in reducing the risk of compression bone fractures!  We should be asking why then has there been such a push for calcium supplementation over the last ten years?

 

 

So, now what do we do?  We still have a problem with osteoporosis.  More than half of the women over 50 will have an osteoporosis related fracture in their remaining lifetime.  What are our doctors telling us?  They’ve been as caught off guard with this new research as we have.  The lead research physician concluded:

 

  • In most cases, discontinuation of calcium would seem appropriate
  • For most older people, the risks of calcium supplements outweigh the benefits
  • For patients at risk for heart disease, with multiple risk factors, or a strong family history, perhaps calcium supplementation should not be considered
  • Patients with osteoporosis should generally not be treated with calcium supplements, either alone or combined with vitamin D, unless they are also receiving an effective treatment for osteoporosis for a recognized indication
  • Patients with high risk for fractures will continue to take calcium supplements

 

Before making any changes make sure to discuss these finding with your doctor.  But, of course, remember that strength training and eating foods high in calcium and Vitamin D are still important to bone health.  Here are great food alternatives: non/low-fat dairy (milk, cheese, and yogurt), green leafy veggies (spinach, swiss chard, kale, turnip, mustard, or collard greens), broccoli, sesame seeds, Chia Seeds, fennel, cabbage, summer squash, green beans, oranges…. Lots of tasty things.  Amazing how it all comes down to exercise and eating healthy!

 

 

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