Calcium fad demystified
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Calcium fad demystified

Calcium works wonders only when taken in moderation. An overdose may have more side effects than benefits...

health and fitness Updated: May 30, 2011 01:44 IST

Increasing calcium intake beyond a moderate amount does little to curb osteoporosis later in life, say researchers of a new study. While moderate amounts of calcium are vital for maintaining healthy bones, researchers from the University of Sweden found that increasing consumption beyond 700 mg — equivalent to 3 oz (85 g) of sardines and an 8 oz pot (227 g) of yogurt — made little to no impact at reducing the risk of fractures or osteoporosis later in life.

The study aimed to tackle a long standing debate on the daily calcium consumption required for healthy bones. For example, dietary guidelines for people over 50 vary around the world. In the UK, recommended calcium intake is 700 mg; 800 mg in Scandinavia; and 1,200 mg in the US. In their study, researchers reviewed the data of 61,400 Swedish women aged 63 to 93 who were followed up for 19 years from a Swedish mammography study carried out in 1987. Of this group, 24 percent had suffered a fracture, six percent of whom had suffered a hip fracture.

Through a series of questionnaires asking participants about their diet, calcium intake, use of supplements, multivitamins, menopausal status, and lifestyle habits, scientists found that women who consumed around 750 mg of calcium had the lowest risk of fracture. Those who increased their calcium consumption, however, did not experience a reduced risk.

In fact, researchers said there is some evidence that high calcium consumption may actually increase the rate of hip fractures.

Similarly, a study published last month in the same journal also suggested that there could be too much of a good thing with calcium. The study addedto mounting evidence that calcium supplements can increase the risk of cardiovascular events like heart attacks in older women.

First Published: May 29, 2011 17:08 IST