When I was a strict vegetarian, I had to supplement my diet with essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals. Calcium was on top of the list.
As a woman, I am told by my doctor that I need to supplement with calcium and have, in fact, been taking a Cal-Mag-Zinc tab for several years now. So, I was rather alarmed when I heard the news that calcium supplements can cause heart attacks. I thought, this can’t possibly be true, so I decided to investigate a little further and this is what I found out.
The findings from 11 research studies out of the University of Auckland School of Medicine, New Zealand, which was published in the British Medical Journal, show a relationship between calcium and heart attacks. This study was conducted on nearly 12,000 people.
There were 6,166 subjects who took calcium supplements and 5,805 people in the placebo group who did not. Of the 6,166 calcium subjects, 166 had heart attacks compared to 130 out of the placebo group. These findings remained constant from study to study regardless of age, sex or brand of calcium supplement.
Based on these results, it is fair to say then, that calcium supplements increase your relative risk of heart attack by 30% and your risk of a stroke by 20%. To put this into plain terms, this translates into a 1-2% absolute increase in risk. It is also important to note that these heart attacks were not fatal and the real increase relates to a rise in the diagnoses of heart attacks.
Needless to say, this study sparked controversy with Osteoporosis Australia, whose argument was backed-up by the Nurses Study of 85,000 women that showed calcium to have a protective effect on the heart.
Researchers argued that calcium supplements for people suffering from osteoporosis have little effect on preventing fractures and anyone taking prescription drugs for osteoporosis should not also supplement with a calcium tablet before talking to their doctor. While calcium supplements positively affect the density of bones, they do little to help to reduce fractures.
Given the modest benefits of calcium supplements on bone density and fracture prevention, a reassessment of the role of calcium supplements in osteoporosis management is warranted ~ Prof. Ian Reid, Department of Medicine, University of Auckland, New Zealand.
While Osteoporosis Australia has been advised to re-evaluate their evidence, the fact remains that the only safe way to avoid these complications is to eat a healthy, calcium-rich diet and lead an active lifestyle. As for me, after this last bottle of calcium supplements, I’m going to trust that my diet is rich enough in calcium, especially now that I’m eating meat and dairy again.
Originally published @ FITLODE.COM