Nutrition-wise blog

Calcium supplements and bone health

By Jennifer K. Nelson, R.D., L.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. August 21, 2010

Calcium supplements have long been considered a safe complement or replacement for dietary calcium. But recently a report came out saying that people who take calcium supplements are at greater risk of a heart attack.

Don't throw away your calcium supplements yet. There's more to the story. The results of this particular study are not conclusive and, thus, not sufficient to dictate a change in recommendations about calcium supplements for otherwise healthy people.

If you're not meeting your daily calcium requirements with low-fat dairy and other calcium-containing foods, then a calcium supplement may help. (It's a good idea to talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian if you have concerns about taking dietary supplements.)

But a diet rich in calcium is only part of maintaining bone health. The best prescription for healthy bones also includes:

  • Getting enough calcium in childhood to reach peak bone density.
  • Performing weight-bearing exercise, which helps bones stay strong.
  • Getting enough vitamin D. Your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium.

Did this media report make you rethink your use of calcium supplements? If so, what are your plans for protecting your bone health?

To your health,

Katherine

Aug. 21, 2010