Can extra calcium hurt your heart?

A new study suggests supplements may increase the risk of heart attack – but a calcium-rich diet is definitely good for you

(Globe & Mail) — Last week, calcium supplements were called into question after a report concluded that regularly taking them might increase the risk of heart attack.

The report – a combined review of 11 studies conducted in the past 20 years – linked calcium supplements to a 30 per cent greater risk of heart attack, especially among people who also consumed high amounts of the mineral from their diet.

Based on their findings – and the fact that taking calcium only modestly reduces the risk of bone fracture – the study authors called for a reassessment of the role of calcium supplements in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.

Does this mean it’s time to trade in your calcium pill for a glass of milk? It’s too soon to say. Not one of the studies included in the analysis focused on heart attack or other cardiovascular events. The studies were designed to assess the relationship between calcium and bone health or colon polyps.

What’s more, the researchers chose to exclude trials that gave participants calcium combined with vitamin D. The large U.S. Women’s Health Initiative, for example, reported that calcium and vitamin D supplements had no effect on the risk of heart disease.


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