I've been preaching against the use of calcium supplements to strengthen bones for over 20 years. And I'm sure that I'm not the only doctor who reads the literature. Despite that, I still have one woman after another come in to see me whose doctor has put her on calcium supplements to "help strengthen your bones." Maybe this overwhelming new study on the futility of taking extra calcium to combat osteoporosis will stop the ignorance. But I doubt it.
Just last month, researchers published a paper in the British Medical Journal entitled, "Calcium intake and risk of fracture: systematic review." In their own words, they were looking, "To examine the evidence underpinning recommendations to increase calcium intake through dietary sources or calcium supplements to prevent fractures." To do this, they looked at every published paper and experimental trial that examined whether or not calcium intake from either supplements or food decreased the risk of fractures in the over-50 crowd.
After looking at all this data, here's what they concluded, "Dietary calcium intake is not associated with risk of fracture, and there's no clinical trial evidence that increasing calcium intake from dietary sources prevents fractures. Evidence that calcium supplements prevent fractures is weak and inconsistent." But it doesn't end there.
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There are at least two other very important reasons why taking calcium supplements to strengthen bones is a bad idea. One, it prevents a woman from doing the things that really do strengthen bones. This would include important lifestyle issues, such as getting adequate sunlight, exercise, and hormone replacement. It also includes the nutrients vitamin D, boron, vitamin K, vitamin C, zinc, and strontium. Fortunately, you can work with your doctor and a fitness trainer on the first three. And you can get all of the nutrients in a product called Ultimate Bone Support. But there is a third reason why calcium supplements are dangerous.
If all that calcium that you take in does not go on your bones, where does it go? The answer is it goes in places where you don't want it. Places like the kidneys to cause stones. Or the arteries to cause calcifications. Or the joints to cause calcium deposits. None of these are good for you. And that's why I have reported in the past on studies showing calcium supplements to be associated with heart disease and other ailments. So is this the final nail in the coffin of calcium supplements? Who knows. It should be. But the longer I live, the more amazed I am at how long it takes to get rid of a wrong old wives tale.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD
Bolland MJ, Leung W, et al. Calcium intake and risk of fracture: systematic review. BMJ. 2015 Sep 29;351:h4580.