Calcium Supplements May Increase Risk For Heart Attack
A primary concern for the elderly is good bone health due to the fact that as we age, mass and density of the skeletal tissue decreases due to loss of calcium and other minerals. This can lead to our some of our bones becoming thinner and more brittle, predisposing us to injury and disfigurement.
One popular way to combat bone loss over time has been the taking of calcium supplements. However, a new study has found that calcium supplements may increase an older person's risk for heart disease while also calling into question their efficacy in maintaining bone health.
The study, published in the British Medical Journal, looked at 12,000 people who were over the age of 40 years who were taking 500mg or more of calcium every day. It turns out that consumption of calcium supplements increased the risk for a heart attack by 30 percent.
The risks were the same regardless of the gender, age, or type of supplement given. No risks for heart disease were seen in people who had diets naturally high in calcium.
In fact, according to the National Osteoporosis Society, most people might not even need them because they should be obtaining adequate amounts of the mineral in their diets.
Considering the fact that millions of people worldwide take them, the findings are important in terms of how doctors recommend calcium for managing such diseases as osteoporosis, and may indicate a need to revise current guidelines.
The reason for the increased risk for heart disease was not completely understood, but it has been hypothesized that excess calcium in the bloodstream might contribute to the hardening of the arteries.
Calcium supplementation may therefore boil down to a balance between benefits and risk. Some experts warn that the results should be taken with some degree of caution, mainly because the link between calcium and heart disease was not the initial goal of the study. That said, experts also indicate that the conclusions should not be ignored, either. Furthermore, the data might not necessarily apply to younger individuals who are taking calcium supplements for specific conditions.
Nutrition experts encourage people to try to get their calcium from natural dietary sources rather than relying on supplements. If calcium supplements are being used, they should only be taken under the supervision of a physician, especially if an individual has a history of heart disease.
Calcium is in fact the most abundant mineral in the body and is important for muscle contractions, proper functioning of blood vessels, neurotransmission, and good bone health. Good sources of calcium include dairy products and leafy green vegetables.
If you have questions or concerns about calcium in your diet, speak with your doctor. For more information about calcium supplements, visit the website for the Office of Dietary Supplements, a service of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). To learn more about how to get more calcium in your diet, visit the website for Milk Matters.