Does calcium really boost bone density?

Does calcium really boost bone density?

Calcium is one of the most common minerals in the human body, and is necessary for many functions. “Calcium is required for vascular contraction and vasodilation, muscle function, nerve transmission, intracellular signaling and hormonal secretion, though less than 1% of total body calcium is needed to support these critical metabolic functions,” states the National Institutes of Health.

For a long time, it has been a widely held belief that calcium is great for bone health, and it may even increase bone density and strength. But is there proof? Does calcium really boost bone density?

New research from The BMJ shows that it most likely does not. The study results suggest that calcium intake through dietary supplements or diet should not be recommended to prevent fractures.

Currently, older men or women are advised to take at least 1000-1200 mg/day of calcium to improve bone density or prevent fractures. Many people take calcium supplements to reach these recommended levels of intake.

Recently, there have been concerns about the safety of calcium supplements. One major concern is that excess amounts of calcium can build up and harden in the arteries, increasing risk of atherosclerosis. This is especially a risk when magnesium is not taken with calcium.

As written in LifeExtension Magazine:

Magnesium deficiency can induce elevation of intracellular calcium concentrations, and accelerate atherosclerosis. Calcium is a component of atherosclerotic plaque and when calcium salts build up in soft tissues it causes hardening, which is technically called calcification. Exposure to excess amounts of calcium over time, without adequate magnesium sets the stage for endothelial dysfunction and formation of atherosclerotic plaque.”

Because of these concerns, a team of researchers from New Zealand set out to determine if calcium really does increase bone density or contribute to bone health.

As explained in the study press release:

In the first study, they found that increasing calcium intake from dietary sources or by taking supplements produces small (1-2%) increases in bone mineral density, which “are unlikely to lead to a clinically meaningful reduction in risk of fracture.”

In the second study, they found that dietary calcium intake is not associated with risk of fracture, and there is no clinical trial evidence that increasing calcium intake from dietary sources prevents fractures.”

Professor Karl Michaëlsson from Uppsala University in Sweden that it is time to review recommendations for calcium intake, especially in older adults, because of potential health risks.

The weight of evidence against such mass medication of older people is now compelling, and it is surely time to reconsider these controversial recommendations,” he concludes.

Note: None of the information in our website is intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. The content on our website is for educational purposes only.

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1. “Calcium.Office of Dietary Supplements. National Institutes of Health, n.d. Web. 5 Oct. 2015.
2. “Increasing Calcium Intake Unlikely to Boost Bone Health or Prevent Fractures, Say Experts.” EurekAlert! BMJ, n.d. Web. 05 Oct. 2015.
3. “Calcium Intake and Risk of Fracture: Systematic Review.” The BMJ. BMJ, n.d. Web. 05 Oct. 2015.
4. “Potential Danger Of Calcium Supplements.”, n.d. Web. 05 Oct. 2015.

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