Diet / Heart Health / Nutrients / Vitamins and Minerals

GetReal with Calcium Supplements

Yes, too much calcium may increase risk of heart attacks. I’m sure you’ve heard the news and read the headlines, but no need to be alarmist, just cautious. A recent analysis of the Women’s Health Initiative study, along with the research from eight other studies (aka meta-analysis), found that “calcium supplements with or without vitamin D modestly increase the risk of cardiovascular events.” Missing out on the calcium you need is not an option either, since getting too little can increase your chances of osteoporosis. So what does this mean to you? Should we be banning calcium from the shelves? Not necessarily.

It means you have to get enough calcium – not too little, not too much.

Here’s how much you need:

Woman between 19-50 yrs and men under the age of 70yrs need 1000 mg per day

Woman over the age of 50 yrs and men over the age of 70yrs need 1200 mg per day

This amount reflects the calcium you get from your diet AND supplements. So the days of taking 3 calcium supplements a day (for most peeps) are done.

So how much do you get from your daily diet and how to know if you need a supplement? First off, you can’t help but get 300 mg of calcium a day just from eating a fairly well-balanced diet (remember: the mineral is found in small amounts in many foods like oranges, kale, spinach, salmon, bread, nuts).

Then you add 300 mg for every time you eat 1 serving of calcium-rich foods, which include:

- 1 cup milk or fortified soy or almond milk. (More about the low-down on different kinds of milk here).

- 3/4 cup of yogurt

- 1.5 oz of cheese (or 2 slices)

If you are still under the target after accounting for the calcium you get from your food, then, and only then, do you need a calcium supplement. Don’t forget that multivitamins often contain 200-400 mg of calcium, so be sure to take that into account too.

Want a through analysis of the calcium you’re getting in your diet? Check out this Calcium Calculator by the British Columbia Dairy Foundation.

Thanks for getting in the know with calcium supplements (from your bones)!

-M

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