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Increased calcium intake seems not to harm arteries

November 16, 2012

According to a new US study, high calcium intake from diet or supplements does not increase the risk of blood vessel calcification.

The researchers calculated calcium intake from diet and/or supplements and investigated the health status of heart arteries (using Cardiac Computed Tomography, CT) in 1,300 men and women with an average age of 60 who participated in the Framingham Heart Study – an observational, prospective cohort study – for four years (1). The study results showed that participants with the highest calcium intake had the same coronary artery calcification score as those with the lowest calcium intake. The coronary artery calcification score represents the severity of calcified plaque clogging the arteries in the heart and is an independent predictor of heart attack.

The researchers concluded that there seemsto be no increased risk of calcified arteries due to higher values of calcium intake. The findings reassure people who take calcium at levels within the recommended guide-lines for bone health that they can continue to do so safely, without worrying about the risk of calcifying their arteries. However, the researchers stressed the importance of discussing the appropriateness of recommen-dations (given an individual’s personal medical history) with a health care provider.

The study addressed an important issue concerning the association between calcium intake and a clinically measurable indicator of atherosclerosis in older adults. In recent years, reports have raised concern regar-ding potential adverse effects of calcium supplements, for example, increased risk of heart attack. However, the US Institute of Medicine (IOM) concluded that evidence from clinical trials does not support an adverse effect of calcium intake on risk of cardiovascular disease. They considered the following guidelines to be safe and effective for bone health: 1,200 mg per day of calcium for women over 50 and men over 70 and 1,000 mg per day for men between 50 and 70.

References

  1. Samelson E. J. et al. Calcium intake is not associated with increased coronary artery calcification: the Framingham Study. Am J Clin Nutr. Published online November 2012.