Calcium Supplementation Risks

Dr John Wade, MD, FRCP, discusses diagnosis and treatment of calcium supplementation risks.

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Dr John Wade, MD, FRCP, discusses diagnosis and treatment of calcium supplementation risks.
Video transcript

Featuring Dr. Wade, MD, FRCP
Calcium Supplementation Risks
Duration: 2 minutes, 16 seconds

So the current guidelines for calcium right now are about 1,200 milligrams a day of calcium.  

You probably should try to achieve that for an adult. There have recently been some concerns that are being expressed that too much calcium might be harmful for you.  

There was a study that came out of New Zealand about four years ago, where there was some suggestion that by taking excess calcium supplement you would have increased risk for cardiovascular disease, a heart attack, and stroke.  

So, that upset all of us a little bit because we were sort of pushing calcium in diets and supplements. We were concerned that we were actually causing some potential downside to people taking calcium supplementations.

We initially did not believe that study so we then looked at some other evidence in the literature. There were some other evidence from some of the random medical control trials for osteoporosis that maybe there was a little bit of concern that calcium was resulting in increasing cardiovascular events, so that sort of took us back a little bit.

Since then there has been very close evaluation of literature that has gone the last number of years. There was a very good study done on women’s health initiative study done back a number of years ago now where they followed 35,000 post-menopausal women, women in their 50s and older.  

They followed them over a course of each year and these women received calcium and vitamin D versus placebo, not receiving calcium and vitamin D, a dummy pill.  The observation was that if you follow these 35,000 women, so half got calcium, vitamin D, half did not. The result was there was no hint at all of a risk of any heart attack or stroke after eight years.  

So, the results of the women’s health initiative trial would suggest that there is not a large concern of any concern of cardiovascular risk for heart attack and stroke. The only concern that did pop out in that study is that there was a slight increase of kidney stones of people taking calcium and vitamin D.

Now the instance of kidney stones is very small in the general population of one percent and the increase was a slight increase of 17 percent of that one percent.  So not even for the one percent increase so I think that if you are taking calcium and vitamin D, you have to be aware that there is a potential slight increase of kidney stones if you take calcium. But that risk is very small.

Presenter: Dr. John Wade, Rheumatologist, Vancouver, BC

Local Practitioners: Rheumatologist

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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