Calcium Supplements: Can't Keep Up with the Hype

Oh, calcium. First you’re an indispensable enhancer of bone health and then you’re pegged as another unreliable supplement. What’s a young woman who’s actively considering the quality of her post-menopausal years to do?

As of now, calcium continues to be included in my daily vitamin regimen. While the results of the most recent study on the effects of calcium on overall health were disappointing, most doctors seem to believe that it still plays an important role in long-term bone health.

The study found that calcium does little to prevent broken bones and fractures in women over 50. Researchers also discovered that calcium supplements are not only less effective than originally thought, but that they can also cause kidney stones. Of the women reviewed, there were an additional five cases of kidney stones per 10,000 women per year.

The study’s results refute an established medical theory — that calcium and vitamin D maintain healthy bones and since women’s bones become more fragile after menopause they should start taking supplements as early as possible. It also jeopardizes the $993 million a year calcium supplement industry. $993 million!

Calcium and vitamin D may not be living up to their hype, but they don’t really need to. According to Gina Kolata’s piece in the New York Times, many women over 50 already get an adequate amount of the two from sunlight and diet.

[via New York Times]


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