Supplements offering a quick-fix approach to health gained a lot of popularity at the turn of the century, but their safety has been thrown into question after studies drew a connection between over-supplementation and deadly ailments. In one study conducted in Germany, researchers found that a popular mineral supplement could double the risk of heart attack, warranting great caution.
Calcium supplements are widely taken by women during menopause to restore bone density.
Scientists have previously reasoned that maintaining adequate levels of calcium in the blood could keep the body from drawing it out of the bones.
But jarring studies have warned that the supplement could double the risk of heart attack, suggesting the pill should be taken with caution.
These findings were established during a German study probing the calcium intake of 23,980 men aged between 35 to 64 between 1994 and 1998.
Over the course of the 11-year follow up period, 345 of the participants and 260 had a stroke, with a total of 267 associated deaths.
The researchers found that people who used calcium supplements regularly were 86 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack than those who didn’t.
The study’s four co-authors explained that the figures constituted “a statistically significantly increased myocardial infarction risk in comparison with non-users of any supplements”.
Writing in the paper, published in the journal Heart, the researchers explained that those who obtained calcium supplements exclusively from supplements had a 2.7 higher risk of a heart attack.
They concluded: “Increasing calcium intake from diet might not confer significant cardiovascular benefits, while calcium supplements, which might raise MI risk, should be taken with caution.”
How much calcium do you need?
Doctor Walter Willett, chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard Chan School of Public Health, explains that many health authorities disagree with daily calcium requirements of 1,000 milligrams for women ages 50 and younger.
He explains that some governments even recommend more than 1,200 mg for menopausal women.“Essentially, I think that adults do not need 1,2000 mg of calcium a day,” explained doctor Willett.
The NHS says individuals should get all the calcium they need from their daily diet.
“Taking high doses of calcium could lead to stomach pain and diarrhoea,” explains the health body.
“If you take calcium supplements do not take too much as this could be harmful. Taking 1,500 mg or less a day is unlikely to cause any harm.”
According to the health body, good sources of calcium include green leafy vegetables, fish where you eat the bones, bread made with fortified flour, milk cheese and some other dairy foods.