Saturday, December 4, 2010

Rethinking Calcium Supplementation

When you pop your daily allotment of pills in the morning, do you include a calcium supplement?

Today's update from Medscape Nurses included an interesting discussion regarding a recent study's results - that calcium supplements which do not include vitamin D may actually increase women's risk of heart attack, or myocardial infarction:
"In a combined analysis of the five studies that had contributed patient-level data, the investigators found that calcium supplements were associated with about a 30% increase in the incidence of MI (hazard ratio 1.31; 95% CI 1.02–1.67; p=0.035) and smaller, nonsignificant increases in the risk of stroke and mortality.
The findings were consistent across trials, and the risk of MI with calcium supplements tended to be greater in those with higher dietary calcium intake. The MI risk was independent of age, sex, and type of supplement.
A similar analysis of 11 trials that contributed trial-level data showed a 1.27 relative risk of MI (95% CI 1.01–1.59; p=0.038) associated with calcium supplements.
"Clinicians should tell their patients that, for most older people, the risks of calcium supplements outweigh the benefits. Changing to calcium-rich foods may be appropriate," Reid said."
It's important to note here that dietary sources of calcium did NOT increase the risk of myocardial infarction. You can find a list of calcium rich foods here, from the University of California San Francisco Medical School here (which also lists age-appropriate daily recommendations for dietary calcium intake), and here, from the Harvard University Health Services site.

You can read more about the calcium and heart studies and their interpretations here and here.

Image found here on Healthy Living, which also includes additional information and discussion regarding calcium supplementation.

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