Calcium supplements – what you need to know

Calcium supplements may not be as good as you think

Calcium supplements and fracture risk

Current research does not support calcium supplements to reduce fracture risk in adults.  In particular, the combination of 400 IU of vitamin D and 1,000 mg of calcium had no effect on fracture risk.  Ann Intern Med. 26 February 2013  Interestingly, Americans have the highest dairy consumption in the world and yet we have the most incidence of fractures.  The numbers don’t add up.

More research on calcium and fracture risk

Calcium and cardiovascular risk

High calcium intake was associated with higher all-cause and cardiovascular death rates.  The study results suggest that calcium supplements, rather than the calcium intake level are the problem.  The highest intakes of calcium (>1400 mg/day) were associated with higher all-cause risk for death as compared with intakes of 600 to 1000 mg/day.  BMJ. Published online February 13, 2013

More on calcium and cardiovascular disease

What we need to realize is that calcium levels in the body are under tight homeostatic control. When you begin taking high levels of calcium in supplement form it has to go somewhere, maybe it goes to the arteries and not necessarily into the bone.  

Calcium requirements

A balanced diet consisting of whole foods is the best way to increase your calcium requirements naturally.  Adults need about 1000 mg per day.  Although I am not a milk fan, a cup of milk will yield about 300 mg.  Other food sources of calcium:  Kale: one cup is about 90 mg, an orange 60 mg, sardines 325 mg per serving, Silk-soy milk 1 cup 300 mg, Quaker instant oatmeal 125 mg/serving, sesame seeds 1 oz. 280 mg, almonds 1 oz. 80mg and yogurt 8oz. has 415mg.     

If you eat a balanced meal throughout the day you’ll rarely have to worry about getting your calcium from a pill.