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Many women take calcium pills to keep their bones strong and stave off osteoporosis. But doing so may bring about heart disease, according to new research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
Researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, among other institutions, found that people who take calcium supplements are 22% more likely to have plaque buildup in their arteries, which can cause cardiovascular disease events. Eating a calcium-rich diet, on the other hand, had no such effect. In fact, foods high in calcium were found to lower the risk for heart problems in the study of more than 2,700 people.
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“When it comes to using vitamin and mineral supplements, particularly calcium supplements being taken for bone health, many Americans think that more is always better,” the study’s lead author Erin Michos, MD, associate director of preventive cardiology at Johns Hopkins, said. “But our study adds to the body of evidence that excess calcium in the form of supplements may harm the heart and vascular system.”
And according to Today.com, prior studies have found that supplements might send calcium to blood vessels instead of bones, so those pills may not actually prevent osteoporosis anyway.
Dr. Michos recommends talking to your doctor about whether you need calcium supplements at all, and if you do, what the proper dosage should be.