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Calcium Supplements not tied to Heart Disease Risk for Women

Update Date: May 31, 2014 09:46 AM EDT

Calcium is an essential mineral that helps the body maintain strong bones. Even though calcium can be found in a lot of different food items, some people get their calcium source from supplements. In a new study, researchers examined the potential health consequences of taking calcium supplements. The team from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, MA found no such link between taking these supplements and an increased heart disease risk for women.

For this study, the researchers examined data on 74,245 women from the Nurses' Health Study. Data were accumulated every four years. They calculated that more than 60 percent of women aged 60 and older took calcium supplements. The researchers followed up on the participants 24 years later. Overall, there were 2,709 heart attacks and 1,856 strokes. The researchers reported that taking calcium supplements was safe for heart health. The supplements actually reduced women's risk of heart disease.

"Our study adds to the existing body of evidence supporting that calcium supplements do not increase the risk of heart attack or stroke in women," lead researcher Dr. Julie Paik of the hospital's Channing Division of Network Medicine, said according to Medical Xpress.

The researchers noted that women who took calcium supplements were also more likely to be active. These women smoked less and consumed less trans fats. These factors could contribute to the reduced risk of heart disease, Dr. Mary Ann McLaughlin, director of the cardiac health program at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, cautioned.

The researchers concluded that women should always consult with their primary care physicians about starting a calcium supplement regimen. The team also stressed the importance of eating foods rich in calcium, such as milk, cheese, tofu, salmon, broccoli, kale and almonds.

"Many women don't get enough calcium in their diet," Dr. Nieca Goldberg, a clinical associate professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, said. "I think it's always better for us to get our nutrients from food, because that forces us to eat healthier."

The study was published in Osteoporosis International.

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