Upon reading the new evidence it is enough to make people question whether they should stop buying the supplements and just up their dietary intake of calcium instead. After all, it’s what used to happen before all the supplements came about.
Calcium is mostly well known for playing a key role in bone health, but it also helps maintain heart rhythm, muscle function and more. People take calcium to either grow new bone when young, or maintain bone health when older. Supplements treat or prevent osteoporosis. Doctors sometimes use calcium to control high levels of magnesium, phosphorus and potassium in the blood. It can help control high blood pressure and even reduce PMS symptoms.
Good sources of calcium come from milk, cheese, yogurt, broccoli, kale and Chinese cabbage, fortified cereals, juices, soy products and tofu.
In the UK up to 11% of British adults take calcium supplements. The NHS says adults need 700mg of calcium a day and doesn’t recommend supplements to get this, but advises older people to take Vitamin D supplements. The calcium supplements are prescribed with vitamin D for an estimated 3 million people who have osteoporosis.
Prof. Karl Michaelsson, from Uppsala University in Sweden, said: “The official recommendations in the U.K. and Nordic countries of 700-800 mg/day of dietary calcium for adults seem at present to be enough. This intake can be achieved with a normal varied diet.”
“Other guidelines such as from the U.S. National Osteoporosis Foundation promote at least 1,200 mg calcium and 800-1000 mg IU vitamin D daily for women aged 50 or older. Few women can achieve these intakes through dietary means alone.”
New studies in New Zealand had scientists look at diet and supplements on bone health in women and men aged over 50. The first one found that increasing calcium intake from dietary sources or taking supplements produced small increases in bone mineral density 1-2%. The result was that it would be unlikely to lead to a clinically meaningful reduction in risk of fracture.
The second one found dietary calcium to not be associated with the risk of fracture, increasing the amount consumed didn’t prevent such breaks.
There have been some side effects experienced from those taking calcium supplements. It may cause bloating, gas and constipation. High doses of calcium can cause kidney stones.
There is supposedly an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes in some people taking calcium supplements in addition to a diet high in calcium. Excessive levels of calcium in the blood can cause nausea, dry mouth, abdominal pain, irregular heartbeat, confusion and even death in rare cases.
The Verdict seems to be that calcium tablets don’t do what we thought they did and in fact, they are pretty much useless.
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