Studies show calcium supplements can later be harmful to health


Photo by Kristine Cho

Alyssa Gibler

Calcium supplements are supposed to strengthen bone health in patients. Turns out they may be bad for you.
The National Institutes of Health conducted a study in 2013 concerning the potential danger of calcium supplements and the side effects of taking them, which found those who take calcium supplements are at greater risk for experiencing a heart attack.
Katherine Cody, the executive director at American Bone Health, said there have been concerns about calcium supplements for a long time.
“If you take more calcium supplements beyond your daily requirement, they appear to do harm,” Cody said. “There is an association between supplements and heart disease, but it is not determined at causal.”
Experts believe calcium supplements haven’t been strongly affecting bones and teeth, and their positive effects on health have been little to none in recent years.
“There is a greater danger that some people are not getting enough calcium from their food,” Cody said. “If a person is chronically deficient in calcium, the calcium in bones is released, and people lose bone mass.”
A dietary supplement used to prevent or treat cardiovascular disease and the overwhelming chance of the medication may be affecting people’s health long-term. Researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine have found that taking calcium supplements may increase the chance of heart damage and plaque buildup. Johns Hopkins’ research has also concluded that taking precautions, such as having a diet in calcium-rich foods is preferred.
Senior Jessica Garcia has taken calcium supplements for two to three years and said she does not currently see any benefits to taking calcium additives in her youth.
“I feel when I’m older the benefits or negative side effects will show,” she said. “Once I’m older the chance of my bones becoming brittle is increased.”
Chief marketing officer for the National Osteoporosis Foundation, Claire Gill realizes that getting enough calcium and vitamin D is essential to building strong, dense bones from the time someone is young and keeping them strong and healthy as a person ages.
“The confusion about risks and benefits of calcium supplementation has been going on for many years, so this isn’t new,” Gill said. “National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) is committed to continued research to provide the most up-to-date and evidence-based information about nutrition for bone health including the role calcium and vitamin D from foods and supplements.”
Mainly a health concern in elderly women; Jürgen Kern and The Official Journal of the American Academy of Neurology have determined that calcium supplementation is linked to the progress of dementia in women. During a five-year period follow-up, they concluded that elderly women treated with these supplements were in fact at a higher risk experiencing strokes and stroke-related dementia.
“I think the chances o it causing more problems for me later in life are pretty high,” Garcia said. “I’ll try drinking milk regularly or getting calcium some other way.”