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Calcium Supplements May Double Women's Risk of Cardiovascular Disease, Death

Update Date: Feb 13, 2013 02:08 PM EST
Pills, calcium
Calcium supplements are not tied to an increased risk of heart disease for women. (Photo : Flickr/bradleyj)

Everyone knows that they should get calcium in their diet in order to keep their bones strong, but often enough that is hard to do. As a result, many people turn to calcium supplements. That may seem like a decision that makes sense. However, a recent study conducted by researchers in Sweden has found that taking calcium may not be good for your health. In fact, it may double your risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death.

According to Philadelphia Magazine, a previous study on this subject, published in BMJ, was conducted three years ago, indicating a link between calcium supplements and heart attacks. Many scientists found fault in the study's methodology, and doctors say officially that there is no link between calcium supplements and heart attacks.

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However, that stance may be changed with the publication of this more recent study, also in BMJ. The study was conducted by researchers from Uppsala University, tracking over 60,000 women born between the years of 1914 and 1948. All of the women were followed for about 19 years apiece.

The study found that death risk elevated for women who consumed either less than 600 milligrams of calcium or more than 1,400 milligrams of calcium, most often from cardiovascular disease. In fact, the study even found that women whose calcium intake was high and who took supplements had a higher death risk than women whose calcium intake was high from diet exclusively. Women who consumed 1,400 milligrams of calcium daily were up to twice as likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease, Health Day reports.

Everyday Health reports that, just last week, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that men who take calcium supplements are 20 percent more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease than men who do not. However, that study did not find an increased risk for women.

This finding about supplements is particularly bad news, considering that 60 percent of American women who are middle-aged or older take calcium supplements. Americans also eat an average of one and a half dairy servings per day instead of the recommended three.

Currently, it is suggested that every man and women receive about 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day, but health officials note that the tolerated upper limit is 2,000 milligrams.

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