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New calcium supplements warning

Thursday May 24th, 2012

People who take calcium supplements to strengthen their bones need to be careful they do not put their hearts at risk, researchers warned today.

Consuming "moderate" amounts of calcium is linked to a reduced risk of heart attack - but not high amounts, according to the Swiss study.

And those who take regular supplements faced an 86 per cent increased risk of having a heart attack, researchers found.

The study, reported in the journal Heart, seeks to compare the effect of having a high calcium diet and taking supplements.

Researchers studied some 24,000 people in Heidelberg, Germany, over a 15-year period.

The researchers found that people consuming moderate levels of calcium had a 31 per cent less risk of having a heart attack than those who consumed the least amount of the mineral. But the risk increased again when people consumed high levels.

Researcher Professor Sabine Rohrmann, of Zurich University, writes: "This study suggests that increasing calcium intake from diet might not confer significant cardiovascular benefits, while calcium supplements, which might raise risk, should be taken with caution.

Writing in the same journal Professors Ian Reid and Mark Bolland, of the University of Auckland, New Zealand, say: "We should return to seeing calcium as an important component of a balanced diet, and not as a low cost panacea to the universal problem of postmenopausal bone loss."

"It is now becoming clear that taking this micronutrient in one or two daily doses is not natural, in that it does not reproduce the same metabolic effects as calcium in food."

Natasha Stewart, of the British Heart Foundation, added: "We need to determine whether potential risks of the supplements outweigh the benefits calcium can give sufferers of conditions such as osteoporosis.

“If you have been prescribed calcium supplements, you should still keep taking your medication, but speak to your doctor if you have any concerns.”

Heart May 24 2012;doi 10.1136/heartjnl-2012-301904

Tags: Australia | Diet & Food | Europe | Heart Health | Orthopaedics | UK News

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