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Research shows no link between calcium supplements and cardiovascular disease

October 24, 2016   /   by Jamie Rogers

Taylor Wallace

A team including a George Mason University professor has found there is no link between the use of calcium supplements and cardiovascular disease.

Calcium is the dominant mineral in human bone, but scientists say it is a shortfall in the American diet.

“Calcium and Vitamin D are vital for maintaining bone health across the lifespan and preventing osteoporotic fractures later in life,” said Taylor Wallace, a professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies in the College of Health and Human Services. “Adults who do not get at least three servings of dairy per day should supplement with 300 mg of calcium for each absent serving, regardless of their age.”

Some 43 percent of adults living in the United States take calcium supplements, he said, many of them postmenopausal women wanting to offset bone loss and prevent fractures.

Wallace worked with scientists representing the National Osteoporosis Foundation and the American Society for Preventive Cardiology on the report, published this month in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

People began to question the safety of their calcium supplements around 2010, after a study by New Zealand doctors indicated calcium supplements were linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

“The data was really cherry picked,” Wallace said, adding that the scientists in that study looked at a couple of cohorts that really weren’t designed to measure outcomes.

Since 2010, conflicting medical reports about calcium supplements and their link, both harmful and beneficial, to cardiovascular health have emerged, he said.

Newly published guidelines update the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Evidence-based Practice Center’s 2009 report on the effects of Vitamin D and calcium on health, which didn’t find any link between calcium supplements and cardiovascular disease.

Wallace said this new report is a census of all the data and considers the full body of significant literature.

“There have been a lot of mixed messages going around in the media. It should really assure [people] that calcium in dairy form and supplemental form is safe,” he said.