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Are Calcium Supplements Safe?

Calcium supplements have been promoted as the key to strong bones but too much calcium may have a downside if it is taken as a supplement instead of in food

Calcium supplements have long been promoted as essential for strong bones. A new analysis in the British journal BMJ calls into question both the safety and effectiveness of this common supplement. The scientists reviewed data from 15 randomized placebo-controlled trials, each with at least 100 subjects. They found that people assigned to take calcium were nearly 30 percent more likely to have a heart attack than those taking placebo pills. The difference was significant.

Although the increase is not great, so many people take calcium tablets that the overall number of excess heart attacks could be quite high. Worse, people are taking this risk for questionable benefit. It is not clear that calcium supplements alone, without vitamin D, are very effective at preventing fractures. Apparently about 40-odd people would have to take calcium for five years to prevent one additional broken bone. The researchers suggest that the role of calcium supplementation should be re-evaluated. Getting calcium from food, however, does not appear to be a problem and was recommended by the investigators.

[BMJ,online July 29, 2010]

7/27/2017: Redirected to: https://www.peoplespharmacy.com/articles/high-blood-level-of-calcium-raises-heart-attack-risk/

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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