Calcium is an essential mineral that is present in bones and teeth. Its also plays an important role in various cellular functions, assisting in the transport of molecules in and out of cells. Calcium also helps in muscle contraction, as well as in the control of nerve activity and excitability. Physicians generally prescribe calcium supplements to patients who have been diagnosed with excessive levels of excitability or irritation.
The role of calcium has been given much attention in the past few decades, resulting in the establishment of specific guidelines for its daily requirement. For instance, in the United States, the recommended calcium intake is 1,000 milligrams each day for younger adults, whereas in Europe, 800 mg per day is the suggested daily requirement for women within the age range of 50 to 65 years of age. It has been reported that elderly adults often have relatively low levels of calcium and this is largely due to the change in the amount and type of food consumed on a daily basis. In this scenario, physicians often prescribe calcium supplements in this specific age range. The administration of calcium to elderly adults was presumed to decrease the risk of osteoporosis among this specific population.
According to a recent medical report, the use of calcium supplements should be again reviewed because there is a possibility that its administration may result in calcium side effects. Based on the findings of the study published in Clinical Cases in Mineral and Bone Metabolism, calcium side effects may include a higher risk of heart attack, as well as an increased susceptibility for stroke or sudden death. These findings were summarized from 26 clinical trials involving adults who were taking 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day.
The medical report also described the findings of another study involving approximately 36,282 postmenopausal women who were taking 1,000 milligrams of calcium and 400 IU of vitamin D per day. In this study, a higher risk for heart attack was associated with the intake of calcium supplements in combination with vitamin D. To determine whether these calcium side effects were due to the use of two dietary supplements, the study examined the incidence of heart attack in a group that was given only vitamin D or calcium. Interestingly, the study showed that taking calcium by itself was associated with a higher risk of heart attack.
RELATED READING: Strontium and Why Your Calcium Information is Wrong
The findings of the medical report thus emphasized the need to assess the use of calcium as a preventive measure against osteoporosis among the elderly. Although the use of calcium may lower the risk of hip fractures and other bone injuries among older adults, it is also important to consider other calcium side effects that may also develop at a later time.
The report also pointed out that the use of calcium is now widespread across the world and this is simply based on earlier knowledge that this mineral helps in strengthening bones and teeth. However, there is also a need to examine its interactions with other components of the body, including the activities of specific tissues and cells. The report thus presented the question of whether changes in dietary patterns are sufficient in improving the amount of calcium that enters the body.
Most people derive calcium from milk, cheese, and yogurt; however, busy people find it more convenient to take a calcium pill each day to fulfill the daily requirement for this mineral. The findings of this recent medical report have thus expressed the need to do further research on the benefits and risks of taking calcium pills on a daily basis.
Related Reading: The Side Effects of Calcium Supplements You Wouldn’t Expect