Calcium supplements and Vitamin D have been in the news this week after a US Preventive Services Task Force recommendation was handed down indicating the supplements may actually do more harm than good, and are not particularly effective in preventing fractures in older women.
In regards to calcium supplements and Vitamin D, US Preventive Services Task Force member Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, MD, said earlier this week that there is not “evidence to suggest that 400 IU of vitamin D plus 1,000 milligrams calcium can prevent fractures among postmenopausal women who do not live in assisted living or nursing home facilities,” but lack of beneficial effect is just one of the factors when it comes to calcium supplements at least.
Late last month, a study was released regarding the use of calcium supplements and heart attack risk. Published in the medical journal Heart, researchers Ian Reid and Mark Bolland of the University of Auckland in New Zealand commented on the effects of calcium supplements in an editorial accompanying the research:
“Calcium supplements have been widely embraced by doctors and the public on the grounds that they are a natural and therefore safe way of preventing osteoporotic fractures… It is now becoming clear that taking this micronutrient in one or two daily [doses] is not natural, in that it does not reproduce the same metabolic effects as calcium in food.”
The pair continues:
“We should return to seeing calcium as an important component of a balanced diet, and not as a low cost panacea to the universal problem of postmenopausal bone loss.”
The study’s data on calcium supplements was concerning. Among 24,000 German men and women aged 35 to 64, those using calcium supplements regularly were 86% likelier to suffer a heart attack, and those who relied solely on calcium supplements for recommended calcium intake were a staggering 139% likelier to suffer cardiac arrest.