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Calcium supplements pose no cardiovascular risk

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Saturday Oct 26, 2013 (foodconsumer.org) -- Taking calcium supplements for a long term does not pose any cardiovascular risk, according to a new study recently released in Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

J. R. Lewis from University of Western Australia and colleagues conducted the study and found 3-year calcium supplementation did not cause any adverse effect on common carotid artery intimal medial thickness and carotid atherosclerosis in older women.

Some studies claimed that supplementation of calcium which is an essential nutrient for skeletal health may render an adverse cardiovascular effect.  And one study, according to the authors, even proposed that supplemental calcium can increase carotid atherosclerosis.

For the study, 1,103 women among more than 4000 who were enrolled in the Calcium Intake Fracture Outcome Study, a 5-year randomized clinical trial, were tested for common carotid artery intimal medial thickness (CCA-IMT) and carotid atherosclerosis at year 3.

The study found that supplementation of elemental calcium in a dose of 1.2 grams per day did not make any difference in multivariable-adjusted mean CCA-IMT between study subjects and controls, and women receiving calcium supplements did not increase carotid atherosclerosis either.

Participants in the highest tertile of total calcium intake, including dietary and supplemental calcium, had carotid atherosclerosis reduced by about 30%, compared to those in the lowest tertile.

The researchers concluded "these findings do not support the hypothesis that calcium supplementation increases carotid artery intimal medial thickness or carotid atherosclerosis and high calcium intake may reduce this surrogate cardiovascular risk factor."

Calcium carbonate is used as the calcium supplement for the study.  The supplement can be used not only as a dietary calcium supplement, but also can be used as a gastric antacid, a phosphate binder to treat hyperphosphatemia in patients with chronic renal failure.  It may also be used to treat diarrhea in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. (DL)

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