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Osteoporosis prevention treatment does more harm that good, four-year study reveals.

Osteoporosis prevention treatment does more harm that good, four-year study reveals.

Wednesday, August 4th 2010

Osteoporosis prevention treatment does more harm than good, a four-year study reveals...

Calcium supplements, which many people consume hoping to ward off osteoporosis, may increase the risk of heart attack by as much as 30 per cent, an Auckland researcher said yesterday. 

The tiny tablets which carry concentrated doses of calcium were also associated with higher incidences of stoke and death, but these were not statistically significant.

The researchers advised people taking calcium supplements to seek advice from their doctors, take more calcium-rich foods and try other options such as exercise, not smoking and keeping a healthy weight to prevent osteoporosis.

“People regard calcium supplements as natural but they are really not natural at all,” said Auckland University professor of medicine Ian Reid.

A conclusion from 11 studies over four years, tracking nearly 12,000 people...

He and colleagues in Britain and the United States conducted an analysis of the results from 11 studies that tracked nearly 12,000 elderly people over four years. Half were given calcium supplements and the other half placebo or dummy pills with no therapeutic content.

The results were published in the British Medical Journal. Read the full report here

More heart attacks in those taking calcium supplements...

“What we found was a 30 per cent increase in heart attacks in the people who were randomized to take calcium,” Professor Reid said.  “If you have 100 people taking calcium for five years, we will expect to find 14 more heart attacks, 10 more strokes and 13 more deaths in the people given calcium than they would have had if they had not been treated with calcium.

“That is 37 more adverse events and we expect 26 fractures being prevented.

“So calcium is associated with more bad things happening than with bad things prevented.”

Medical experts not certain why calcium supplements contributed to more heart attacks...

While experts are not certain about the biological mechanism by which calcium supplements may damage the body, studies in the past had linked high levels of blood calcium to more heart attacks and damage to blood vessels, Professor Reid said.

“When you take calcium supplements, your blood calcium level goes up over the following four to six hours and goes up to the top end of the normal range.

“That doesn’t happen when you have calcium in your diet because the calcium from food is very slowly absorbed and so the blood calcium level hardly changes at all.”

Higher blood calcium might lead to the formation of plaques in blood vessels, which could lead to heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases, Professor Reid said.

Published in NZ Herald 31/07/2010

Footnote from Leanne James about calcium supplements...

Many calcium supplements do not contain the essential co factors needed to help with the absorption of this mineral. The studies looked at to produce this report were from people taking supplements that contained calcium only

All nutritionists know the importance of having not only calcium in the supplement, but also magnesium (in a 2:1 ratio), zinc, vitamin D and (as NZers) boron...

Calcium supplements must also contain co factors to help absorb the calcium...

As well as this, the form of minerals used needs to be looked at too. Some are more absorbable than others (for example citrate forms) where carbonate is considered to be one of the least absorbable forms. The calcium supplements commonly prescribed by doctors usually contain just the carbonate form.

Remember you can read the entire report from the British Medical Journal here.  As well as this, make sure you read the comments from other professionals and subscribers of this journal.

healthyonline's favourite calcium supplements...

These are our favourite calcium supplements, which also contain the co factors needed for better absorption. 

  • Radiance Mineral Power - contains a combination of different forms of calcium and magnesium, as well as a full range of co factors to help with a better absorption of calcium.
  • Natures Sunshine Calcium Magnesium with SynerPro Concentrate. A perfectly combined Calcium & Magnesium supplement, with co factors which are essential for the proper absorption of these minerals. Also contains vitamin D & zinc, essential for absorption

Calcium supplements for better bone density...

We have reports from customers who have taken Nutralife Super Calcium Complete and their bone density level has either stabilised or increased while taking this. They have noticed these changes from one bone density test to another. 

Ethical Nutrients also have the Ethi Cal High Strength Tablets and Ethical Bone Builder Vitamin D Powder.  These also contains Hydroxyapatite, specifically for helping to increase bone density. 

Vitamin D for calcium absorption...

Adequate Vitamin D is essential for helping with calcium absorption and metabolism for bone health. It promotes intestinal absorption of calcium and phosphorus, facilitates calcium transport and reduces urinary calcium loss in order to keep calcium in the body and spare calcium stores in the bones.

Vitamin D also promotes calcium deposition in bones and is required for the proper utilization of magnesium. Very few foods contain vitamin D. As a result, a varying percentage of people are deficient in this vitamin at any time, with this percentage being higher in winter, among the elderly or obese, in sun deprived individuals, in dark skinned people (heavy melanin effectively blocks skin synthesis of Vitamin D) and in populations living in more poleward regions with lower sunlight exposure.

We stock these Vitamin D supplements Natures Sunshine Vitamin D, Good Health Vitamin D suckable tablets.

If you need help or advice, you are welcome to email our naturopathic team with your health question.

Disclaimer: The health information presented here has been written for the New Zealand health consumer. It is of a general nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subjects covered. The information is not intended to be comprehensive or to provide medical advice to you. While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility or liability is accepted, and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided. All health ailments should be treated by a qualified health professional.

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