Study Finds Calcium Supplements May Increase Heart Risks for Men

Men who take calcium supplements may want to talk to their doctor about their use after a large study found that supplemental calcium was associated with an increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

The study, published online by JAMA Internal Medicine, included more than 388,000 people between the ages of 50 and 71. It did not find the same associated risk for women, according to a news release.

Many people take calcium supplements to improve bone health.

“Increasing evidence indicates that too much supplemental calcium might increase the risk of cardiovascular disease,” wrote Susanna Larsson, an associate professor at the Institute of Environmental Medicine at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, in an accompanying editorial. Larsson was not part of the research team.

The study, conducted by researchers at the National Cancer Institute, does not prove that taking calcium supplements increases cardiovascular disease, only that it is associated with it. People who participated in the study were followed for 12 years.

“More large studies are needed to further assess the potential health risks or benefits of calcium supplement use on (cardiovascular disease) morbidity and mortality,” Larsson wrote. “Meanwhile, a safe alternative to calcium supplements is to consume calcium-rich foods, such as low-fat dairy foods, beans and green leafy vegetables, which contain not only calcium but also a cocktail of essential minerals and vitamins.”

Federal guidelines suggest women up to age 50 and men up to age 70 consume 1,000 mg of calcium daily. Once a woman turns 51 years old and a man turns 71, the recommended amount increases to 1,200 mg.

Sources: news release, National Cancer Institute, Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health

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