A common practice particularly among middle aged women is to take Calcium supplements to improve bone strength. The theory has been that since Calcium is important for our bones that adding Calcium would help protect us from osteoporosis and fractures.
However, since that time studies on Calcium supplementation have not been convincing in normal ambulatory women that they protect against hip fractures. In addition, there is some evidence that Calcium supplementation may increase heart attacks and strokes.
In a recent meta-analysis of different studies around Calcium it was shown that most studies "show little evidence of a relationship between calcium intake and bone density" and that there was no evidence that supplemental would prevent hip fractures.
The benefit also must be balanced against "an increase in gastrointestinal side effects (including a doubling of hospital admissions for these problems), a 17% increase in renal calculi and a 20-40% increase in risk of myocardial infarction."
According to the analysis the final recommendation is that "calcium supplements appear to have a negative risk-benefit effect, and so should not be used routinely in the prevention or treatment of osteoporosis."
While Calcium supplementation may not be appropriate for most people the good news is that calcium intake from natural sources doesn't seem to have the same risk profile.
Of course, each individual case is different and the advice in this post should not substitute for getting a consultation with your doctor.
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