Is This “Healthy” Nutrient Actually Bad For You?

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    A group of different types of supplements

    People, particularly women, need calcium. Right?

    Last year, a Swedish study published in the British Medical Journal linked calcium supplement use in women to an increased risk of heart disease and death.


    However, a newer study, conducted by scientists from Australia, Denmark and the United States, examined 18 studies involving nearly 64,000 participants. They found that calcium supplementation with or without vitamin D does not increase coronary heart disease or all-cause mortality risk. This new study was presented at the World Congress on Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases in Seville, Spain.

    So, which study is more accurate? After countless studies and years of analysis, most experts still say that calcium is still good for you.

    Though, there are some basic calcium facts that are important to know.

    Calcium: What, How Much & Why

    Most Americans don’t get enough calcium. If you’re 19 to 50 years old, you need 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day, which is about the amount found in three servings of dairy products or other calcium-fortified foods.

    Why is calcium so important? You probably know that calcium is important for strong bones, but did you also know that it helps maintain a healthy blood pressure? Other benefits may include colon cancer prevention and boosting heart health.

    It’s important to understand that your calcium requirements increase with age. Why? In part, it’s because absorption of calcium declines with age. Vitamin D helps with absorption at all ages, which is the reason that so many supplements and foods contain both calcium and vitamin D. With age, it can be difficult to get all the calcium needed, which is why many people reach for calcium supplements.

    Calcium-Rich Foods You Should Be Eating

    Experts agree that while supplements can help ensure that you’re getting enough of the nutrients you need, obtaining them from food is just about always the preferred way. Some of the top calcium-rich foods you should be eating include:

    • Dairy products (yogurt and low-fat cheese and milk)
    • Calcium-fortified orange juice
    • Salmon
    • Sardines
    • Dark, leafy greens like spinach, kale, turnips, and collard greens
    • Fortified cereals
    • Fortified soymilk
    • Enriched breads, grains, and waffles

    Also, remember to space your calcium intake: Your body is only able to absorb about 500 milligrams of calcium at one time.

    When You Shouldn’t Take Calcium Supplements

    If you are prone to kidney stones, check with your doctor before taking any calcium supplements. Also, never exceed 2,500 milligrams per day for calcium—the daily upper limit for those 19 to 50 years old, set by the Institute of Medicine.


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