Calcium Information

Are you taking too much calcium?

Here is some calcium information that may change your perception about the benefits of calcium. We have always been advised that calcium is important for our bone health ... but! ....

Are you taking too much calcium? Calcium as a stand alone is not ideal - Sunlight and hormone balance are also important.

This article containing interesting calcium information was forwarded to me recently - it comes from Ruth Diprose and refers to a Special Report from Harvard Health Publications. [If you click on this link it will take you to "Harvard Health Publications" where you can sign up for their newsletter and read lots of interesting health reports.]

Calcium serves many functions in the body, but the main one is to form the structures that give our bones and teeth their strength and shape. As we get older, our bones start to thin out bit by bit, so they become less dense, more brittle, and more likely to break. When this thinning advances to a certain point, it's called osteoporosis. Each year in the United States there are 1.5 million bone fractures associated with osteoporosis, and 250,000 of those breaks will involve a hip.

Recent calcium information and Research questions the calcium-strong bones link.

For years, high calcium intake has been portrayed as one of the best things you could do to prevent osteoporosis and related fractures. But when researchers started to crunch the data from large, prospective studies that followed people for many years, the benefits weren't so clear-cut. These findings led to randomized trials of calcium to test what effect it might have on fracture rates.

The tide started to turn in 2005 when results from two British studies showed that calcium didn't prevent fractures - even when taken in combination with vitamin D. The next year, results from a large American trial, the Women's Health Initiative, showed that postmenopausal women who took a calcium-vitamin D combination were no less likely to break their hip than women who took a placebo pill, although the density of their hip bones increased slightly.

In 2007, a Swiss and American team, including some researchers from Harvard, reported the results of a meta-analysis of over a dozen studies of calcium. They found no connection between high calcium intake, from either food or pills, and lower hip fracture risk. In fact, when they limited their analysis to four randomized clinical trials with separate results for hip fractures, they found that extra calcium 'increased' the risk. Calcium Information Whys and Wherefores:

While a certain level of calcium intake is undoubtedly important to keeping bones strong, amounts above that level might not do much good. One reason extra calcium didn't show any benefit in the Women's Health Initiative may have been because the women in that study were, on average, already getting over 1,000 milligrams (mg) daily. And they weren't all that unusual. Many Americans already get plenty of calcium by eating dairy products and taking supplements.

Another theory: calcium in large amounts may interfere with absorption of phosphorus, which is also crucial to maintaining bone strength. Phosphorus deficiency isn't a major problem in well-fed populations, but it's possible that extra calcium pushes some people into it, especially if their diets don't include much protein.

Another factor may be that added calcium isn't all that beneficial if vitamin D intake is low. The body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium, and depending on how you define it, between 30% and 60% of us have less-than-optimal levels of vitamin D in our blood.

What should you do?

According to current recommendations, Americans over 50 are supposed to get 1,200 mg of calcium daily. Dr. Walter C. Willett, chair of the Harvard School of Public Health's nutrition department, believes that many Americans are getting more calcium than they need.

In his opinion, 600 mg is probably enough for most people to keep their fracture risk low, but because extra calcium might be protective against colon cancer, he sees a daily intake of 600 to 1,000 mg as a reasonable goal. There may be real drawbacks to overdoing calcium, especially if dairy foods are the source. Dr. Willett points to studies linking high consumption of dairy products to ovarian and prostate cancer, noting that the relationship seems particularly strong for metastatic and fatal prostate cancer.

Current guidelines say Americans in the 50-plus age bracket are supposed to get 400 to 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D. But a growing number of experts - including Dr. Willett - say that's not enough, and that 800 IU, or even 1,000, would not only benefit our bones but possibly prevent some cancers and other problems.

You can read lots more about vitamin and mineral recommendations by clicking on this link where you'll find also a Special Health Report that is available for purchase.

An interesting observation about vitamin D is that without sufficient of this vitamin, your body will break down bone to get the calcium it needs - no matter how much calcium you consume through food and supplements.

After reading this calcium information you can go back to find out more about vitamins by clicking this link.

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