By: Victoria Clayton
The rumors you heard pertain to a study published recently in the British Medical Journal. It analyzed data from 11 randomized studies in which people took 500 mg or more of calcium via supplements to prevent bone fractures.
What the researchers found is surprising: Those who added calcium had a 30 percent greater risk for heart attack. Supplements may contribute to heart disease by elevating blood-calcium levels higher and quicker than when you get the nutrient from food, says Dr. Ian Reid, lead researcher from New Zealand’s University of Auckland. “In general, we do not encourage the use of calcium supplements since they seem to do more harm than good,” he says.
However, if you’re taking supplements under orders from your doctor, talk to him before you stop taking them. For most of us, though, a balanced diet appears to be the best way to ensure bone health. If you’re a woman between the ages of 19 and 50, aim for about 1,000 mg of calcium a day. A cup of milk has 300 mg, and a cup of yogurt has 450 mg. If you can’t have dairy, try calcium-fortified orange juice. (One cup contains 300 mg.) Also, keep in mind that most vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and dried fruit contain some calcium.
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Victoria Clayton is a freelance health writer and the former “Growing Up Healthy” columnist for Msnbc.com. She has written about oral health topics for The Los Angeles Times, and she is a frequent contributor to Oral Care and Health Daily.