CALCIUM SUPPLEMENTS: Friend or Foe : Healthy Habits
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CALCIUM SUPPLEMENTS: Friend or Foe

by Karen Craven on 04/01/14

Is calcium supplementation safe?


It would be hard to find an American women who hasn’t heard that she should take calcium supplements to protect her bones. Osteoporosis is an issue for both men and women in the second half of life and can be the cause of back and hip pain and an increased risk of falling.  


With all the push to get women to take calcium you would expect osteoporosis rates to be declining, but they aren’t.  A look at the studies done on calcium intake and hip fractures, mineral density and bone health are very interesting. The information is very conflicting.  


Nutritional research foundations found that calcium supplementation did not prevent osteoporosis and in some cases worsened the bone loss. 1   Studies funded by the National Dairy Council, The Beefcheckoff, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and the Egg Nutrition Center found that more protein and more calcium help ward off osteoporosis. 2  A very small study of 26 women who ate less protein, less calcium by half and increased their magnesium intake considerably were able to improve their bone density which had previously been below the fracture level. 3 A study done in New Zealand found a 20-30% increase in heart attack risk with calcium supplementation when they looked at a dozen clinical trails involving 12,000 patients. 4  Wisdom would seem to lie in reading many opinions and being careful to look at the source of funding for the research that you read.


So what to do for bone health?  Weight training can increase bone density. In Dr. Miriam Nelson’s book, Strong Women Stay Young, there is research to support this ideas. 5  It is not necessary to go to the gym or even to buy weights to strength train.  Items we have at home like bottles of water or canned goods make acceptable weights. Weight bearing exercise like walking also helps us maintain our bone density.  Adequate Vitamin D and a diet of leafy greens is an excellent way to care for your bones. Consider these ideas if you are concerned about bone density. 


Inspiration for this information came from Kathy Abascal’s book, The Abascal Way To Quiet Inflammation, pages 144-148.


1. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/86/6/1780.full; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18065599

2. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/87/5/1567S.long

3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2352244

4. http://www.bmj.com/content/341/bmj.c3691?view=long&pmid=20671013 

5. http://www.strongwomen.com/book/strong-women-stay-young/


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