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Many people take calcium supplements in the hope that the vitamin pills will make the aging process a little easier and less painful. However, a new study found that calcium supplements can’t offer the health benefits people hope for when it comes to bone health. In fact, says the research, calcium supplements may even be harmful.
The findings from the study, which were reported in the British Medical Journal online publication BMJ.com, showed that calcium supplements don’t strengthen bones. Instead, extra calcium builds up in arteries, which can cause heart disease and excruciating kidney stones.
According to The Telegraph, up to 5 million people in the United Kingdom take calcium and vitamin D supplements in the hope that it will prevent bone fractures and osteoporosis later in life.
Dr. Ian Reid from the University of Auckland in New Zealand headed the research, which was a meta-analysis compilation of high quality studies from around the world. Most showed that people over age 50 received little to zero benefit from calcium in supplements or food. Even a randomized controlled trial, the most reliable form of study, showed no differences in bone health between people who took calcium supplements and people who did not.
“Evidence that calcium supplements prevent fractures is weak and inconsistent,” Reid’s study said. “Dietary calcium intake is not associated with risk of fracture, and there is no clinical trial evidence that increasing calcium intake from dietary sources prevents fractures.”
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, about half of American women over age 50 will deal with a broken bone caused by osteoporosis, a condition of weak and porous bones that approximately 54 million Americans are at risk of or have already developed.
Calcium supplements don’t seem to help prevent bone loss, but worse than that, they may in fact harm the body. Reid’s team found that many clinical trials reported kidney stones, cardiovascular events, and gastrointestinal issues were directly linked to calcium supplements.
One German study that followed 24,000 middle aged and elderly Germans for 11 years reported that taking calcium pills roughly doubled risk of heart attack.
Researchers still recommend people get the baseline daily amounts of calcium and Vitamin D, which helps the body actually absorb calcium, through food. The best sources of calcium include dairy products and leafy green vegetables.
Vitamins and minerals are still necessary for bone health, but taking extra calcium and vitamin D in a pill isn’t helpful. If you’re concerned about bone health, put the vitamins down and instead check out OsteoStrong, which is even more natural than a supplement and builds bone health an average of 14 percent a year in less than 10 minutes a week.