We are great believers in supplements. When we get to our middle and old age, it makes sense to add a bit to boost our health. Doctors are quick to recommend that, as we get older, our bones get brittle and we need more calcium. So, we get it from food, and then we get it from supplements, and we often get too much of it, especially if we are eating healthy, balanced meals. We already know that too much calcium causes constipation, and affects our body’s ability to absorb zinc and iron. It also increases our risk of kidney stones. But, scientists found that too much calcium can also highly increase our risk of stroke and heart disease. Since more than 60 percents of American women, those that are middle-aged and older, are taking calcium supplements, this means that quite large proportion of our women are putting their health and lives at unnecessary risk.
Why do we need calcium?
Calcium is necessary for the healthy functioning of our bodies. We need it to grow, and maintain, strong and healthy bones and teeth. We also need it to enable our muscles to move, and for nerves to transmit the message between our body parts and the brain. Calcium is necessary for our blood vessels to transport blood and distribute enzymes and hormones throughout our body.
Babies need very little calcium – 200-260 mg until they are three years old. Older children, from four to eight, need 1000 mg and 1300 mg until they are 18. After that, when the growing is done, people need 1000 mg until they reach 50, if they are women, or 70, if they are men. Women need a bit more – 1200 mg in their middle and old age, and this is what men need after they get to their 70s.
Getting all the calcium we need from food is not difficult. Milk and milk products such as yogurt and cheese are the main sources of calcium from food. Broccoli, kale and Chinese cabbage are also excellent sources of calcium.
Calcium is also added to many food items, such as breakfast cereals, juices, soy and rice drinks and tofu. Keep in mind that this calcium comes under the title ‘supplements’, since it is not natural calcium.
The problem is in supplements
It is almost impossible to get too much calcium from food, even if you are crazy about milk and cheese, and even if you do, it will not hurt you seriously. What scientists are worried about is the calcium we are getting from supplements.
A group of Swedish researchers from Uppsala University studied 61,443 Swedish women for an average of 19 years. They collected data on their diet and the use of supplements, and combined that information with the Swedish Cause of Death Registry.
Results showed that the highest death rates of cardiovascular, heart disease and all