In response to a study published in the journal Heart that suggested a link between calcium supplementation and an increased risk of heart attack, the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) stated that the findings are inconclusive and that more research is needed to better understand the potential relationship between calcium supplements and heart attack risk. The NOF suggested that persons consult with their health care professional before discontinuing the use of calcium supplements and that they continue to meet their daily calcium needs from food sources first.
Inadequate calcium intake has been proved to increase the risk of osteoporosis and broken bones, the NOF noted, pointing out that in women, the risk of fractures resulting from osteoporosis is greater than the combined risk of heart attack, stroke, and breast cancer. The NOF suggests that women younger than 50 years need a total of 1000 mg of calcium from all sources every day and that women aged 50 years and older need a total of 1200 mg; men aged 70 years and younger need a total of 1000 mg of calcium from all sources every day, and men older than 70 years need a daily total of 1200 mg.
The NOF recommends that persons take a calcium supplement only if they are not getting enough calcium from their diet to reach the 1000 mg or 1200 mg total. Most persons can obtain a significant portion of their daily calcium needs from calcium-rich foods, such as low-fat and fat-free dairy products, some green vegetables, and calcium-fortified foods, it was noted.
An estimated 10 million Americans have osteoporosis and 34 million more are at risk for the disease, according to the NOF. Osteoporosis currently causes an estimated 2 million fractures each year and often results in immobility, pain, and other health problems.