Two new studies published yesterday in the British Medical Journal’s online publication added skepticism in the debate on calcium supplements as an alternative to prevent osteoporosis and risk for bone fractures.
They discovered taking calcium supplements is not just a waste of time, but it could be harmful. The extra calcium doesn’t go to strengthen bones but instead can build up in the arteries, causing heart disease, or in the kidneys, causing kidney stones.
The study was spearheaded by Dr. Ian Reid of the University of Auckland in New Zealand and his colleagues, doing a meta-analysis — gathering all the high-quality studies they could find from around the world to see what they showed.
The majority of research found people over 50 get no benefit at all from taking either calcium supplements or from eating calcium in food. They were just as likely to have a fracture as the calcium-free subjects.
“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,” the scientists concluded. “Evidence that calcium supplements prevent fractures is weak and inconsistent.”
What’s a good sub for calcium, its supplements, and common dairy items like milk?
Weight-bearing exercise such as walking, running, playing tennis, lifting weights and dancing can strengthen bones, though stuff like swimming and biking don’t (no weight-resistance).
Cutting down on alcohol and stopping smoking can also help — both which weaken bones.