One of the most common health supplements used by consumers is calcium. In the past 30 years, calcium has achieved fame as a supplement to strengthen the bones and prevent fractures.
A lot of other benefits have been attributable to calcium but most claims are without any scientific merit.
The majority of people who take calcium regularly are postmenopausal women and the elderly.
In the last few years, almost on a weekly basis there is something new about calcium. Some reports indicate that calcium is good for the heart and others say exactly the opposite.
This week, a large study from Germany revealed that calcium supplement may increase the risk of heart attack.
The researchers at the German Research Center in Heidelberg followed close to 24,000 people for over a decade. What they observed was that 881 cardiovascular events occurred, totalling 354 myocardial infarctions (MI), 260 stroke cases and 267 cardiovascular disease deaths.
The researchers found that people taking calcium supplements were 86 percent more likely to have a heart attack during the study. (1, 2)
Based on this study, the researchers caution people taking calcium supplements that they may be at a risk for heart attacks.
However, people from the health supplement industry are not too happy with these results and insist that osteoporosis is a real issue for women. The people who manufacture calcium supplements claim that it is irresponsible for scientists to advise women to cut of their calcium supplements based on a flawed study.
Most health care professionals now believe that liberally taking large dose of calcium may not be safe. More data seem to indicate that long-term use of calcium may not be safe.
For consumers, the best advice is to eat a healthy well-balanced diet that contains adequate levels of calcium. Good sources of calcium include dairy products, milk and fortified cereals.
If there is a need to take calcium supplement, it is important to speak to your doctor first.
1.Gallagher J. Calcium pill pose heart risk. Retrieved May 28, 2012.
2. Li K, Kaaks R, Linseisen J, Rohrmann S. Associations of dietary calcium intake and calcium supplementation with myocardial infarction and stroke risk and overall cardiovascular mortality in the Heidelberg cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study (EPIC-Heidelberg).
Heart. 2012 Jun;98(12):920-5.
Reviewed May 29, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith