Calcium supplements could double the risk of a heart attack

Calcium boosters are usually taken by post-menopausal women and the elderly to deter the thinning of bones in the body. However, a new German study titled ‘the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition’ has indicated that these supplements may actually double the chance of the person suffering a heart attack. Researchers involved in the study, tracked 23,980 individuals in the 1990s for an average of 11 years and who were aged between 35 and 64. All participants in the study did not have any previous history of heart problems.

Studies that have been carried out in the past have shown that high calcium intake can be linked to helping combat high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and obesity. All three are associated with heart disease. This latest German study has however highlighted the dangers of ‘calcium boosters’ in comparison to obtaining the vital mineral from dietary means such as cheese, milk, spinach and hazelnuts.

The subjects who participated in the study whose food intake was roughly about 820mg calcium each day, were found to have a 31% less risk of heart attack in comparison to those who had a lesser intake. For those with intakes of 1,100mg and above, there was no evidential benefit. The Food Standards Agency only actually recommends for adults to intake 700mg of calcium per day within their diet. Staggeringly, an 86% more risk of heart attack was discovered when scientists analysed the people who had been taking dietary supplements. The risk rose even further for those who were simply taking calcium supplements and nothing else. During the 11 year period, researchers noted 354 incidents of heart attack, 260 strokes and 267 deaths related to cardiovascular disease.

Following the alarming results, The National Osteoporosis Society have hit back and claimed there is not enough evidence to suggest the calcium supplements initiate any heart problems. Furthermore, a spokeswoman from the Department of Health is refusing to panic just yet until the full article has been published. The spokeswoman commented, “The majority of people do not need to take a calcium supplement. A healthy balanced diet will provide all the nutrients, including calcium that they need. Good sources of calcium include milk and dairy foods, fortified dairy food alternatives, e.g. soya drink, and green leafy vegetables.”

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