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Home > Health, Hot Topics, Osteoporosis, Wellness > Do calcium supplements increase the risk of heart disease?

Do calcium supplements increase the risk of heart disease?

Recent media reports reviewed a study from New Zealand that concluded calcium supplements increase the risk of heart attacks among subjects.  To verify the link between calcium supplements and heart attacks, researchers at the University of Auckland studied the records of 12,000 people, both male and female, who had previously joined 11 separate clinical trials.   Participants (all over age 40) in this study from the British Medical Journal were given at least 500 mg of elemental calcium per day. The researchers concluded that calcium supplements increase the risk of myocardial infarction by about 30% over five years. 

This new study contradicts many previous studies that showed increased calcium intake did not affect cardiac health.  In fact, a study released in the July/August, 2010 Journal of the North American Menopause Society concluded that moderate doses of calcium plus vitamin D did not seem to alter the risk of future cardiovascular disease.  This study was part of the Women’s Health Initiative, and was a prospective study in which data was collected over seven years.  In contrast, the New Zealand study was meta-analysis type of study, which is considered an inferior type of study compared to a prospective study. 

In fact, calcium and vitamin D has been shown to have beneficial effects on blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol.  In addition, vitamin D has independently been shown to reduce inflammation associated with cardiovascular disease. 

In summary, there are certainly conflicting results regarding calcium and vitamin D supplementation and future study is warranted.

However, for optimal bone development and maintenance, both calcium and vitamin D are necessary.  If patients are unable to achieve recommended intake requirements through diet alone, then supplementing with calcium and vitamin D is important.  Considering that Osteoporosis is a major public health threat for an estimated 44 million Americans, or 55 percent of the people 50 years of age and older.  In addition, In the U.S. today, 10 million individuals are estimated to already have the disease and almost 34 million more are estimated to have low bone mass, placing them at increased risk for osteoporosis.  Therefore, prevention of bone loss and osteoporosis is very important. 

In essence, the bottom line is that it appears that the majority of evidence points to a favorable effect and cardiac disease risk reduction with calcium and vitamin D.  Combined with the positive bone health effects of these nutrients, no significant changes should be made regarding accepted calcium and vitamin D recommendations.

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