Calcium supplements have become increasingly common among people wanting to prevent bone loss, however, a new study has suggested that taking the supplements could significantly increase the risk of a heart attack.
Previous research had claimed that the supplements would help prevent heart attacks and strokes, but the latest study leaders are suggesting it does the opposite. They believe dietary calcium still reduces the risk though.
"While a moderately high intake of calcium from diet may go along with a lower risk of heart attack, this is not true for supplementary calcium intake," said lead researcher Sabine Rohrmann, from the division of cancer epidemiology and prevention at the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Zurich in Switzerland.
She added, "Instead of taking calcium supplements, men and women who want to increase their calcium intake should rely on foods, such as low-fat dairy products or mineral water, [that are] rich in calcium."
The latest claims were made in a report published online on May 23 in the journal Heart.
The study looked at nearly 24,000 people from Germany between the ages of 35 and 64 when they commenced participation in the study between 1994 and 1998.
Like us on Facebook
It was found that participants whose calcium intake was moderate, at about 820 mg a day, did have a lower risk of heart attack. However, if the intake was raised to more than 1,100 mg they did not have any further lowering of risk. At no point was calcium found to be tied to decreasing the risk of a stroke.
The interesting find came, however, when the researchers looked specifically at calcium supplements. They found an 86 percent increase in heart attacks among people who took calcium supplements regularly, compared to those who didn't take them at all.
However, Dr. Robert Recker, director of the Osteoporosis Research Center at Creighton University and president of the National Osteoporosis Foundation, disagreed. "I am doubtful of these findings. It's hard to understand why calcium in the diet can reduce the risk of heart attack, but supplements increase the risk."
He suggested that those who decided to take the supplements were already at a higher risk of heart attacks, which is why they had chosen to take them in the first place.