Are Calcium Supplements Really Good For You?

Taking calcium in the form of supplements can cause a build-up of plaque in the arteries and heart damage

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Update April 2019

New *research from The Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University finds that nutrients from food, not supplements is linked to lower risks of death.

The objective of the research was to evaluate the association among dietary supplement use, levels of nutrient intake from foods and supplements, and mortality among U.S. adults.

When sources of nutrient intake (food vs. supplement) were evaluated, the researchers found:

• The lower risk of death associated with adequate nutrient intakes of vitamin K and magnesium was limited to nutrients from foods, not from supplements;
• The lower risk of death from CVD associated with adequate intakes of vitamin A, vitamin K, and zinc was limited to nutrients from foods, not from supplements; and
Calcium intake from supplement totals of at least 1,000 mg/day was associated with increased risk of death from cancer but there was no association for calcium intake from foods.

After research* in the last few years has shown that taking multivitamins is bad for you, we now have more research about the value of calcium supplements.

Did you know that more than half of women over 60 take calcium supplements, because they are worried about getting osteoporosis? Many take them without consulting a doctor because they’re safe, aren’t they? 

New research 

Well, new research* from researchers at John Hopkins School of Medicine, where they analysed more than 2,700 people, concluded that taking calcium in the form of supplements can cause a build-up of plaque in the arteries and heart damage; although a diet high in calcium rich foods appears to be protective. 

From the research

The researchers were motivated to look at the effects of calcium on the heart and vascular system because studies already showed that "ingested calcium supplements -- particularly in older people -- don't make it to the skeleton or get completely excreted in the urine, so they must be accumulating in the body's soft tissues," 

"There is clearly something different in how the body uses and responds to supplements versus intake through diet that makes it riskier," says Anderson. "It could be that supplements contain calcium salts, or it could be from taking a large dose all at once that the body is unable to process."

"Based on this evidence, we can tell our patients that there doesn't seem to be any harm in eating a heart-healthy diet that includes calcium-rich foods, and it may even be beneficial for the heart," says Michos. "But patients should really discuss any plan to take calcium supplements with their doctor to sort out a proper dosage or whether they even need them."

Food triumphs over supplements

As you will know if you read our blogs regularly we advocate a diet full of natural foods without any supplements and this research goes further to prove that good natural food triumphs over supplements. 

Our recent blog ‘The best Top 10 Foods for Calcium’ gives you the top 10 foods for calcium including lists for vegetarians and vegans. 

You can also find out more about calcium here, with a full search for ingredients and meals highest in this essential mineral.

What happens if you don’t get enough?

If you’re deficient in calcium, your body takes calcium from your bones to boost the levels in the blood. In the long-term, this leads to a loss in bone density.

How do you know if you are getting enough?

The easiest way to know if you are getting enough calcium and all of the other nutrients needed to keep you healthy is by keeping a food diary. 

The food tracker on CheckYourFood.com is simple to use and takes less than 5 minutes a day, so don’t miss out, check your calcium intake now.

Start my food diary now


Click above for a free no risk trial to CheckYourFood.com 

*Sources

Surya Wright

Co-founder, production manager

I'm our communications and marketing person, dealing with social media and copywriting. I also work with Matt and Ric overseeing the design and strategic management of the site. I'm also the author of the Eva the Hungry Amoeba children's book series (only one so far). You can find it on Amazon. My favourite foods, shepherds pie and smoked haddock!

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