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Increased calcium intake may reduce mortality risk in older people

December 20, 2013

A new study from China reports that higher intakes of calcium may reduce the risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality in older people with a low habitual calcium intake.

The observational study investigated a potential link between the dietary calcium intake and death from all-cause and cardiovascular disease of 3,139 Chinese men and women (aged 65 years and over, with no history of heart disease or stroke) over an average of 9.1 years (1). The study results showed that partici- pants with the highest calcium intakes (above 762 mg/day for men and above 688 mg/day for women) had a significantly reduced risk of all-cause mortality and a non-significant decreased risk of cardiovascular morta- lity when compared to participants with the lowest intakes (below 458 mg/day for men and below 417 mg/ day for women). A supplemental use of calcium appeared to be associated with a reduced risk of mortality, especially in all-cause mortality.

The researchers commented that while most epidemiological studies of calcium intake and mortality risk have been conducted in populations with a moderate to high calcium intake, this new study had focused on people with a low habitual calcium intake (i.e. a mean dietary calcium intake of less than 700 mg/day). A low-calcium intake may possibly affect mortality risk or cardiovascular disease-related risk through its effect on dyslipidemia, insulin resistance, and blood pressure (2). On the other hand, it has been suggested that a very high calcium intake may long-term exert a harmful effect on cardiovascular health through several plausible mechanisms, such as vascular calcification and effects on arterial stiffness (3).

References

  1. Chan R. et al. A Prospective Cohort Study Examining the Associations of Dietary Calcium Intake with All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality in Older Chinese Community-Dwelling People. PLoS ONE. 2013; 8(11): e80895.
  2. Wang L. et al. Calcium intake and risk of cardiovascular disease: a review of prospective studies and randomized clinical trials. American Journal of Cardiovascular Drugs. 2012;12:105–116.
  3. Reid I. R. et al. Cardiovascular effects of calcium supplementation. Osteoporosis International. 2011;22:1649–1658.