Table of Contents
Previously it was thought that calcium supplementation increased the incidence of cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes in persons using these supplements. The evidence to confirm or negate these finding were inconclusive, until recently.
This is especially significant since management of osteoporosis includes the use of calcium and vitamin D supplementation to help improve patients' bone densities. Since osteoporosis can increase the incidence of cardiovascular complications, especially in women, it would be very important to determine whether medications used to manage this problem increase the development of unwanted complications or not.
The clinical implication of this study would then suggest that prescribing calcium supplements, with or without vitamin D added, would be safe in patients and would not be associated with the development or increased risk of cardiovascular complications.
Calcium and vitamin D supplementation
The body needs calcium and vitamin D in order to build and maintain healthy bones. Bone material gets broken down, absorbed by the body and new bone material is produced to serve as a replacement, a process known as bone turnover. As humans get older, bone turnover tends to decrease which means that more bone gets broken down than what gets replaced. This can then lead to conditions such as osteoporosis.
The other essential benefits of calcium include assisting with and improving the function of the muscles, the heart and the nervous system. There is some evidence that calcium helps to protect against issues such as diabetes, cancers and high blood pressure, but it isn't definitive.
Calcium isn't produced by the human body and therefore needs to be taking in via other sources. These can include the following:
- Most commonly, calcium is found in dairy products such as cheese, yogurt and milk.
- Fish with soft, edible bones such as canned salmon and sardines.
- Dark, leafy vegetables such as kale and broccoli.
- Calcium-fortified drinks and foods such as certain cereals and fruit juices, milk substitutes and soy products.
Vitamin D is produced by the body with adequate skin exposure to the sun. It can also be found in dietary sources such as egg yolks and bones from canned salmon.
Calcium supplements can interact with certain medications, the most important of which is thyroxine which is used to treat an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism). In order to avoid interaction between these medications, it's usually suggested to take these supplements at least 4 hours apart.