Doctors around the world continue to prescribe a nutritional supplement that I’ve warned you about for more than 20 years. It’s become the most used, and overused, supplement of all time. And it makes billions of dollars for pharmaceutical and nutritional supplement companies. Millions of women believe the hype they hear about it. The problem is they’re not getting the protection they expect. In fact, this is one supplement that actually does harm you.
This supplement is calcium.
I was one of the first to warn you about calcium. The problem? Taking the recommended amount of calcium (1,500 mg/day) did not protect against osteoporosis. Calcium makes bones more brittle and likely to break. By limiting your calcium dose to 500 mg per day, and by combining it with an equal or larger amount of magnesium – a mineral that makes bones more flexible — you can protect your bones from breaking. In addition, studies have shown that dietary calcium is better-absorbed and more effective than calcium supplements. I’ve talked about this at length in past articles, available on my website.
But suddenly, the news about calcium has gotten much worse.
A new study concluded that calcium supplements increase the risk for heart attacks and other heart problems in healthy older women!
These disturbing results caused a group of international researchers to dig deeper. They analyzed the results of 11 randomized, controlled studies of calcium supplements in 12,000 patients. Their findings are nothing short of alarming. Calcium supplements increased the risk for heart attacks in these women by 30%!
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It’s interesting that other studies have found no increased risk for heart problems from dietary calcium. Calcium pills, it appears, are the culprits. Not diets high in yogurt, green veggies, and cheese.
We don’t know yet why calcium supplements put healthy women at risk for heart attacks while the calcium in their diets doesn’t. But don’t wait for an explanation. Never take more than 500 mg of a calcium supplement! If you’re taking more than this, cut your dose back now!
As I’ve always recommended, take your calcium along with magnesium. There are a few multivitamins on the market, such as Women’s Vitality that have adequate amounts of both nutrients. Then protect your bones by eating green leafy vegetables, beans, whole grains, and a little low-fat dairy. These foods contain both nutrients as well. This plan is safer and more effective than taking lots of calcium supplements.
Your voice of reason in Women's Health,
Dr. Janet Zand
Bolland, Mark J et al, “Effect of calcium supplements on risk of myocardial infarction and cardiovascular events: meta-analysis” BMJ July 29, 2010.