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Health Care News & Updates          

September 29, 2010

Is your calcium supplement increasing your risk for a heart attack?

A meta-analysis of 15 studies recently published in the British Medical Journal shows that excess calcium supplementation increases risk of heart attack, stroke and death. BMJ 2010;341:c3691

I've always felt uncomfortable with the idea of taking high doses of calcium supplements. It just never made sense to me to expect all that calcium to go straight into the bones, which is what most folks who are taking those capsules are hoping for it to do. Now this meta-analysis shows us that those higher doses truly aren't a smart idea. It was not determined why or how the increase in heart attack, stroke and death occurred, but I'd wager that the main problem was excess calcium with nowhere to go ending up in plaques in blood vessels.

So what is a high dose? Most of the studies used doses of 1000-1200 mg of calcium per day. That's the amount that is typically recommended to folks who are concerned about their bones. The one study in this group that used a smaller dose of only 500 mg, however, did not have a single participant who suffered from heart attack, stroke or death.

When we look at the calcium needs of the average person along with the average intake of calcium through food, somewhere between 400 and 600 mg seems to be the most sensible daily dose for those who need one at all - even those who avoid dairy. In fact, it's not only sufficient, it seems to be safer than higher doses.

For my clients suffering from bone loss, I always recommend complete "bone support" formulas containing combinations of nutrients needed for bone health instead of calcium alone. Bones are not made of calcium alone. They also contain magnesium, boron, zinc and a host of other minerals plus several vitamins and protein. I also make sure that their vitamin D levels are sufficient because vitamin D is necessary to transport minerals into bone. Two of my favorite bone support formulas are Osteo B II from Biotics and OsteoForce from Designs for Health. Both of these products can be purchased through my virtual dispensary at www.susancnt.com.

I can't close this post without mentioning the importance of good digestion when it comes to the health of bones. Essentially, if you're not digesting and absorbing the nutrients from your food well it's going to be pretty much impossible to have healthy bones. Some signs of poor digestion are reflux, gassiness, bloating, constipation, diarrhea or visible bits of food in stools. A good digestive enzyme and/or hydrochloric acid supplement might be all you need to add in order to keep your bones healthy and strong.

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