Dr Zoe reveals which supplements to take
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The Mayo Clinic says: “Calcium is important for bone health throughout your life. Although diet is the best way to get calcium, calcium supplements may be an option if your diet falls short.” The NHS says adults aged 19 to 64 need 700mg of calcium a day, and you should be able to get all the calcium you need from your daily diet.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) states: “Some research suggests that high calcium intakes might increase the risk of heart disease and prostate cancer.”
NIH states: “Several observational studies have shown that the risk of prostate cancer might be higher with higher calcium intakes, but possibly only when the calcium comes from dairy foods.”
The health body adds: “Additional well-designed randomised trials are needed to determine whether dietary or supplemental calcium intakes increase, decrease, or have no effect on risk of cancer in general or of specific types of cancer, or on cancer mortality.”
The organisation also says much but not all of the observational evidence supports a link between higher calcium intakes and lower risk of colorectal cancer.
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NIH adds: “Calcium binds fatty acids, so it can reduce lipid absorption and might therefore lower CVD risk.
“However, the findings from research on the role of dietary calcium and calcium supplements in reducing CVD have been mixed, and some evidence indicates that calcium supplements might even increase CVD risk.”
The health body notes some clinical trials have shown that calcium supplements are associated with decreased hypertension risk or decreased cholesterol levels, but others have had more mixed findings.
It states: “High levels of calcium in the blood and urine can cause poor muscle tone, poor kidney function, low phosphate levels, constipation, nausea, weight loss, extreme tiredness, frequent need to urinate, abnormal heart rhythms, and a high risk of death from heart disease.
“However, high levels of calcium in the blood and urine are usually caused by a health condition such as high levels of parathyroid hormone or cancer, not by high calcium intakes.”
The Mayo Clinic says calcium supplements aren’t for everyone. For instance, if you have a health condition that causes excess calcium in your bloodstream (hypercalcemia), you should avoid calcium supplements.
It adds: “Until more is known about these possible risks, it’s important to be careful to avoid excessive amounts of calcium.
“As with any health issue, it’s important to talk to your doctor to determine what’s right for you.”
The NHS sadds Taking high doses of calcium (more than 1,500mg a day) could lead to stomach pain and diarrhoea.
The Mayo Clinic says some studies suggest that calcium, along with vitamin D, may have benefits beyond bone health.
This may include perhaps protecting against cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure, “but evidence about such health benefits is not definitive”.
The organisation notes to absorb calcium, your body also needs vitamin D.
The NHS says sources of calcium include:
- Milk, cheese and other dairy foods
- Green leafy vegetables – such as curly kale, okra but not spinach (spinach does contain high levels of calcium but the body cannot digest it all)
- Soya drinks with added calcium
- Bread and anything made with fortified flour
- Fish where you eat the bones – such as sardines and pilchards
Indeed, it says: “A lack of calcium could lead to a condition called rickets in children, and osteomalacia or osteoporosis in later life.”
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