The Side Effects of Calcium Supplements You Wouldn’t Expect

Calcium is an important mineral that is needed for the development of healthy bones and teeth; it is also essential to maintain proper muscle and nerve function. Because of the importance of calcium for maintaining a healthy body and preventing osteoporosis, calcium supplements are one of the most commonly used supplements in today’s society. However, some of the calcium side effects that have been uncovered recently may make some people think twice before adding this supplement to their daily regimen.

Calcium Side Effects You’d Expect

There are a number of calcium side effects that are seen when people take this supplement.  While these calcium side effects may not be alarming, consumer should still be aware of them. The side effects of calcium supplements can include: constipation and upset stomach. Additionally, more serious calcium side effects can include: nausea/vomiting, loss of appetite, unusual weight loss, mental/mood changes, bone/muscle pain, headaches, increased thirst/urination, weakness and fatigue.  Allergic reactions can also be included in the list of calcium side effects.

Calcium Side Effects That May Surprise You

While the above mentioned calcium side effects may not make you think twice about taking this supplement, you’d probably be surprised to know that there is a possible link between calcium supplements and an increased risk of heart disease. The theory is that the calcium in the supplements may actually make its way into the fatty plaques that are found in your arteries which cause the plaques to harden and increase your risk of heart attack.

The Research on Calcium Supplements and Heart Disease

A study conducted by Sabine Rohrmann , PhD from the University of Zurich, and her team followed approximately 24,000 men and women over an 11 year period. The participants were asked to complete food surveys. They were also interviewed regarding their vitamin and mineral intake. The researchers found no link between dietary calcium intake and stroke or between dietary calcium intake and heart disease deaths.  They found that individuals with a high intake of dietary calcium had a reduced risk of heart attack. However, when they looked at the effect of calcium supplements, they found that individuals who took calcium supplements were at an 86% increased risk of heart attack when compared to individuals who didn’t take supplements. While additional research is needed to confirm if this link is definitive, it’s best to speak to your doctor before starting to take a calcium supplement to ensure that it’s safe.

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It’s best to get your required level of calcium from your diet to avoid the possible side effects of calcium supplements. Good sources of calcium include milk, cheese and yogurt products, dark leafy green vegetables, beans, tofu and certain types of seafood (for example – sardines, mackerel, and salmon). Incorporating these foods into your diet will give you adequate calcium content and will help prevent the undesirable side effects of calcium supplements.

It’s important to remember that while consuming calcium in your diet is generally safe, there are still calcium side effects if you consume excessive amounts.  According to the Mayo Clinic, these calcium side effects include:  kidney stones, constipation, calcium build-up in your blood vessels, impaired absorption of iron and zinc and a possible increase in prostate cancer risk. To be on the safe side, men and women aged 19-50 should consume no more than 2,500mg/day and those over 50 should consume no more than 2,000mg per day in an effort to avoid the undesirable side effects of calcium.

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