If you pop a calcium supplement into your mouth every morning, you may want to reconsider the wisdom of doing this. It may be good for your bones, but a new study shows that taking calcium supplements could increase the risk of heart disease.
Calcium and Heart Disease: Is Taking Calcium Supplements a Risk?
In a study published in the British Medical Journal, researchers carried out a meta-analysis of eleven different studies involving 12,000 people – looking at calcium and heart disease risk. They found that men and women who took calcium supplements had a thirty percent higher incidence of heart disease and heart attack. This held true only for people taking calcium in supplement form, not those who got their calcium through dietary sources.
Why Would Taking Calcium Increase the Risk of Heart Disease?
When a person takes in too much calcium, it may be deposited in arteries and vessels that supply blood to the heart. When this calcium combines with cholesterol, atherosclerosis or hard plaques can form in the arteries. If conditions are right, these plaques can rupture, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Not a good situation for the person unfortunate enough to experience it.
Should You Take Calcium Supplements?
This meta-analysis isn’t the final word on the issue of calcium and heart disease, but it does raise questions about the risks of taking calcium supplements – especially for older people who are at greater risk for heart disease. The problem is many people don’t get enough calcium in their diet, which can increase the risk of osteoporosis and fractures. Calcium and vitamin D play an important role in maintaining healthy bones. What’s the solution?
Take Calcium Supplements or Get It Naturally?
The safest option is to get calcium naturally – through foods. Most people need between 1,000 and 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day. A cup of low-fat yogurt has 400 milligrams of calcium, while a cup of skim milk has 325 milligrams. Two cups of milk and a cup of yogurt should supply the calcium requirements of most people. Other good sources of calcium include cheese, sardines, and calcium-fortified cereals and orange juice.
It may be difficult for some groups of people, like vegans who don’t eat dairy, to get enough calcium through diet alone. Tofu and green, leafy vegetables are good sources of calcium, but it can be a challenge for some vegans to get enough of these foods. Vegans should discuss this issue with their doctor.
Calcium and Heart Disease: The Bottom Line?
It’s premature to ditch the calcium supplements just yet. Until more is known, it may be best to get calcium through diet. Talk to your doctor about this.
Nutraingredients.com website. “Risks outweigh benefits’ for calcium supplements: Meta-analysis”