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Health Spotlight: Calcium supplements may negatively impact heart health

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — According to the National Institutes of Health, about 43% of Americans take a supplement that includes calcium.

Calcium is an important mineral used for maintaining bone health. These supplements can cause side effects like bloating, constipation, and kidney stones, but there are other risks when taking the supplement.

A study done by Johns Hopkins University has recently learned that calcium supplements may negatively affect heart health and increases the risk of atherosclerosis, or a thickening of the arteries caused by plaque buildup.

Another study published in the journal Neurology found that women who took calcium supplements were at higher risk for developing dementia.

Dr. Erin Michos, director of women’s cardiovascular health research at John Hopkins, says that the largest research on calcium supplements and bone health shows inconclusive results.

“For individuals who are already meeting their recommended daily allowance, there’s no evidence that more is better, even for bone health or fracture reduction,” Michos said.

Michos adds that dietary sources of calcium can be a greater benefit than mineral supplements.

“I recommend for my patients, the safest thing to do is to try to get their calcium through their diet. We think that the body processes calcium very differently when it comes from food sources versus supplements,” Michos said.

Foods like milk, yogurt, and almonds are high in calcium. The recommended dietary allowance of calcium for most adults is 1,000 milligrams a day. For women ages 51 and older, and men ages 71 and older, the daily allowance is 1,200 milligrams.

Anyone with a calcium deficiency is encouraged to talk to their doctor about whether taking a calcium supplement could be beneficial.