Calcium Supplements Help Prevent Osteoporosis, But Can They Cause Heart Problems?

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Calcium Supplements Help Prevent Osteoporosis, But Can They Cause Heart Problems?

calcium supplements in spoon resting on glass of milk

Calcium is the number one ally in the fight against and prevention of osteoporosis. But recent findings suggest that calcium supplements may require a closer look in their possible connection to an increased risk in heart disease.

A study published last year in the Journal of the American Heart Association concluded that taking calcium supplements may increase a person’s chances of developing atherosclerosis, a build up of plaque in the arteries that can lead to heart disease. It’s important to note that the study only found an association between calcium supplements and atherosclerosis, and that a cause and effect relationship was not proven.

The body needs calcium to make bones and teeth healthy and strong. Not getting enough calcium leads to osteoporosis, a condition where the bones become brittle, increasing your chances of suffering broken bones, especially in the wrist, hip and spine. Approximately 12 million Americans over age 50 have osteoporosis. Women are more likely to develop osteoporosis because of their smaller bones and the decrease in estrogen at the onset of menopause. Estrogen is the hormone in women that protects bones.

Many people see calcium supplements as a quick and easy way to get the recommended daily calcium allowance. The recommendations differ with age. Some people mistakenly assume that more is better. Consuming too much calcium supplements can lead to kidney stones, constipation and an increased risk of prostate cancer.

The best calcium sources come from a variety of healthy foods, including:

  • Dairy products
  • Dark, green, leafy vegetables
  • Fish with edible, soft bones (canned salmon or sardines)
  • Calcium-fortified foods like cereals and juices

Talk to your doctor if you are considering adding a calcium supplement to your routine. He or she can make recommendations based on your personal healthy history. Discuss any concerns that you may have.