Doctors pay a lot of attention to the prevention of osteoporosis (weakening of the bones) and for good reasons - weak bones break more easily, and as bones get more brittle as we get older there is an increase in hip and other bone fractures.
Some of these broken bones, especialy hip fractures, are also associated with a high risk for other forms of illness and even death. Thus, keeping our bones strong is important to maintain good health.
Calcium is deposited within bone and helps to keep the bony matrix strong. It's also important for a variety of other necessary processes within the body, including proper nerve function. Calcium can be obtained from many food sources, including calcium-fortified foods, greens (bok choy, collards and kale), dairy products and broccoli.
For many years people have been taking calcium supplements to help maintain strong bones. The results of a study just published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) suggest that taking calcium alone may do more harm than good.
When the researchers reviewed available studies on the use of calcium supplements alone they found an increased risk of heart attack. Data on the use of calcium with vitamin D or other forms of treatment against osteoporosis do not point to increased risk of heart attack.
The use of calcium supplements for healthy men has been questioned for years because of concern over possible increased risk of prostate cancer.
If you're taking calcium supplements now what should you do?
Talk with your doctor. If you're taking calcium without vitamin D or other forms of treatment against osteoporosis it might make sense to stop and simply make sure you're eating plenty of healthy foods that will provide you with adequate calcium.
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