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Calcium Supplements: Healthy bones . . . Sick heart?
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While conventional health information encourages calcium supplementation for bone health, emerging data suggest that calcium may also increase cardiovascular risk. Are we forced to make a choice: bone health vs. heart health?



Calcium is making its way into numerous food products, like orange juice, breakfast cereals, and bread. Orange juice, in particular, has been a food manufacturer’s favorite for calcium supplementation, containing as much as 500 mg per 8 oz serving. Calcium is often spotlighted as a bone-healthy, heart-healthy supplement.



Calcium supplements are commonly prescribed to prevent or treat osteopenia and osteoporosis, conditions in which bone calcium has been depleted. When severe, loss of bone calcium can result in fracture (e.g., hip fractures). Health advice often includes admonitions to drink plenty of milk to ensure adequate calcium intake. Studies have suggested that greater calcium intake may reduce risk for colon cancer and high blood pressure.



Several dozen major studies over the past 20 years have documented the value of calcium supplementation for bone health. Women who take calcium supplements enjoy less osteopenia and osteoporosis, as well as fewer bone fractures. That much is true.

 



What if calcium goes where it doesn’t belong?


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