Many people take daily calcium supplement pills. However, two studies published in February 2013 add to the concern that regular use of high-dose calcium supplements may increase the risk of heart disease.
|Skim, 1%, or 2% milk
|Low-fat fruit yogurt
|Canned sardines with bones
|Canned salmon with bones
|Cooked yellowfin tuna
|Adapted from the USDA *mg = milligrams|
Calcium and heart diseaseSo are calcium supplements helpful or harmful? There is strong evidence that the combination of calcium (from diet alone or from a combination of diet and supplements) plus vitamin D helps protect against bone fractures. However, there is little evidence that calcium supplements taken alone achieve such bone benefits. In addition, a recent pooled randomized trial suggested that there's a 30% increased risk of heart and other blood vessel disease, but that evidence is neither convincing nor conclusive.
A recent National Institutes of HealthâAARP Diet and Health Study followed more than 388,000 older people for 12 years and suggested that menâbut not womenâwho were regular calcium supplement users had an increased risk of death from heart disease, compared with nonusers. That study was an observational study that was not as rigorously designed as a randomized trial.
A study from Sweden followed more than 61,000 women for 19 years. Women who used calcium supplements and had a total calcium intake of over 1,400 milligrams per day had more than double the risk of death from heart disease and other causes. However, the number of women with such a high calcium intake was small, making the findings less scientifically reliable.
The bottom line is that your calcium intake should come primarily from the foods you eat, and if that is insufficient, then add the right quantity of a calcium supplement in as low a dose as possible.