Harvard Women's Health Watch

Calcium supplements could increase heart attack risks

The supplements you take to strengthen your bones might be putting your heart at risk, according to a study published online May 23 in the journal Heart. Researchers at one time believed calcium was heart protective, helping to reduce heart disease risk factors such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Yet the current study, which analyzed diet and supplement use in nearly 24,000 participants, suggests calcium supplements not only don't protect the heart, but may actually increase the risk for heart attacks. After 11 years of follow-up, people in the study who took calcium supplements were far more likely to have a heart attack compared with those who didn't take supplements. The authors say their findings suggest that calcium supplements "should be taken with caution." If your doctor says you need more calcium, get it from dietary sources such as milk, yogurt, tofu, and spinach, which don't appear to increase heart risks. You can still take vitamin D supplements if you need them for bone strengthening.

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