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Calcium Supplements and Heart Attacks

We all know that calcium is good for the bones and that it can reduce the risk of fracture — but can too much calcium be harmful? 

In 2008, a clinical trial studied the risk of heart disease in older women who were given calcium supplements. The results show an increased risk of heart attacks in the women who were taking 1,000 mg. of calcium citrate — a highly absorbable form of calcium.

Now, researchers have gathered a number of clinical studies that include calcium supplements and combined the results. After analyzing the data, they conclude that calcium supplements (without vitamin D) are indeed associated with an increased risk of heart attacks. We are not quite sure about the mechanisms that were responsible for this result, but there are some potentially important concerns that these findings raise.

What can you do?

Before you take a daily calcium supplement, know how much calcium you are eating in your diet and DO NOT exceed your daily requirement. Since the studies did not control for individuals who eat a calcium-rich diet, adding a 1,000 mg supplement may exceed the amount that generally that recommended. To find recommended calcium amounts, see https://americanbonehealth.org/nutrition/2018-guidelines-calcium-vitamin-d-supplementation

How can you be sure?

Use the CALCIUM RULE OF 300. Start with the number of servings of dairy per day and multiply that by 300. Then add 300 if you eat a well-balanced diet. The total is your calcium intake from diet. Determine your daily requirement and add a supplement — if necessary – to reach your goal. NOTE: you might be able to reach your daily requirement by adding another serving of dairy or fortified juice!

CALCIUM RULE OF 300

Number of Servings

Multiply by
300 mg

 

Total

Dairy or fortified juices

For example: 1 cup low fat milk or yogurt, 1½ ounces of cheese, 1 cup calcium fortified juice.

 

 x 300 mg 

 = 

 

Calcium from a balanced diet

 

 

 + 

300

My total calcium from diet

 

 

 = 

 

BOTTOM LINE — Only take calcium supplements to make up the difference between your daily requirement and what your diet gives you.


Reviewed: 4/15/19

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What to know about bone health
and fracture prevention during COVID-19

  • Remove fall dangers in your home.
  • Stay physically active, and at least 6 feet away from others.
  • Eat for proper nutrition, and take a supplement if needed to get enough calcium and vitamin D.
  • Stick with your osteoporosis medicines and ask your doctor for extra if you’re unable to go to the pharmacy.
  • If you are due for Reclast, there is little concern about delaying for a few weeks or months.
  • If you take Prolia or Evenity injections, don’t miss your appointment.  Some facilities offer “drive-through” injections. Check with your doctor.
  • Bone density testing can be postponed, if necessary.
  • Speak with your doctor about the possibility of telephone and video visits.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a page with steps you can take to reduce your risk of catching the virus if you have a chronic illness.

Be well. We are here for you if you have any questions.