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Calcium Supplements and Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Getting calcium from food might reduce the risk of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), but some research indicates a high intake of calcium from supplements could increase the risk. An Australian study following over 2000 men and women, 50 years and older for 15 years, reported those with the lowest calcium intake from food, less than 565 mg/day, had a somewhat higher risk of developing advanced AMD than the study participants consuming greater than 1247 mg/day of calcium from food over 10 to 15 years. Additionally a study of over 3000 men and women published in 2015 in JAMA Opthalmol (Kakigi) found that after 67 years of age those that consumed more than 800 mg. calcium/day in the form of supplements and/or antacids were 164% more likely to develop AMD than those not taking calcium supplements.

As always, studies like this don’t prove a cause but do bring up an interesting association worth considering. There could have been other factors, such as maybe people who ate more calcium rich foods also ate more fruit and vegetables or practiced other healthy habits that affected their AMD risk. While this study does not prove a correlation, in my opinion it is yet another reason to get your calcium from food not supplements.

Here is some updated information, published since I first published this blog: Another later study concluded that taking calcium supplements did not increase the risk of AMD. This study did not control for other healthy lifestyle choices that people taking calcium supplements might undertake which could potentially affect the risk of AMD. As always, if you are unable to get your calcium from your diet and need to take a calcium supplement then only take the amount required to get you to your daily requirement.

Photo used with permission from the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Photo taken by Amy Getman MS, RD

posted 10/18/2018