Worried about osteoporosis? While your first instinct might be to reach for the calcium supplements, you may want to give it a second thought’researchers have found that taking calcium may increase your risk of heart attack, reports the CBC.
After a five-year study involving calcium supplements suggested a possible increase in "cardiovascular events" in healthy older women receiving calcium, researchers at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, conducted a review of 11 previous studies involving calcium supplementation. Their findings, published in the British Medical Journal, suggest that there is in fact a link between taking calcium supplements and increased risk of heart attack. According to the CBC report, of the 6,166 participants who received calcium supplements, 166 experienced a myocardial infarction (heart attack), compared with 130 out of 5,805 in the placebo group. This translates to about a 30 per cent increased risk.
However, experts from Osteoporosis Australia were quick to disagree with the study’s findings, noting that "There is good evidence that calcium plays an important role in helping to prevent fractures." Osteoporosis Canada has also tackled the issue of calcium supplementation and cardiovascular risk, stating that “High doses (i.e. 1000 mg) of calcium supplements should not be used by post-menopausal women who do not need extra calcium or just a more modest amount.”
But do the possible risks of calcium supplements outweigh the potential benefits of minimizing osteoporosis as we age? The study’s research team concluded that, "As calcium supplements are widely used, these modest increases in risk of cardiovascular disease might translate into a large burden of disease in the population. A reassessment of the role of calcium supplements in the management of osteoporosis is warranted."
The bottom line? Before starting any supplement regime, be sure to speak with your healthcare professional to decide whether supplementation is right for you. And if you are concerned about osteoporosis, talk to your doctor about potential alternatives to supplementation, such as adding more calcium-rich foods to your diet.
Do you take a daily calcium supplement? If so, does this latest report change your opinion of it?