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Overuse of Calcium Supplements

The January/February 2016 issue of Nutrition Today published a review of recent research, which suggests that middle aged and older adults are overusing calcium supplements to the detriment of their health and that re-evaluation of the recommended dietary allowance for calcium in older adults seems warranted. They suggest that 700 to 800 mg. calcium per day is sufficient for healthy bones, especially in older adults and that greater than 1000 mg. per day may be detrimental. Calcium needs for undernourished elderly adults may differ from that of adequately nourished elders and therefore they may have different requirements.

Recent research has questioned whether calcium supplements actually contribute to improved bone strength or result in less osteoporotic fractures. While still controversial, there is also concern that excessive calcium supplement intake may be contributing to unhealthy calcifications in the arteries, heart, kidneys and brain. Less controversial is the relationship between high calcium supplement intake and kidney stones where the research is fairly clear that excessive use of calcium supplements can increase the risk of kidney stones.

A high percentage of middle age and older women take calcium supplements as recommended for years by health care providers. Until more research clarifies the risks associated with calcium supplement intake the authors of the review encourage healthy, non-institutionalized people to meet their calcium needs mainly by eating high calcium foods and to use supplements only when calcium needs can’t be met with food. So more evidence that it is best to get your calcium from food, not pills, and that calcium supplements may be causing more harm than good in certain people.


posted on 8/15/2016