As we age, our bones become thinner and more brittle--that's just one of the sad facts about growing older. To prevent fractures and broken bones, doctors usually recommend women take calcium supplements after menopause. And millions of women, especially those over 50, follow that advice.
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Recently, though, experts are rethinking that strategy. A Norwegian study this spring warned that taking more than 500 mg a day of calcium could raise your risk of heart attacks and strokes, especially for those women over 65. Other studies have shown that supplements actually don't make bones stronger.
Now a new study, published in the journal Neurology has found another alarming risk--dementia. Researchers followed 700 dementia-free women between the ages of 70 and 92 for five years. To their surprise, they found that those who took calcium supplements were two times as likely to develop dementia. But when they investigated a little more, they realized that the risk was confined to women who'd had strokes or other types of cerebrovascular disease (like aneurysms).
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While the researchers note that there is no direct cause-and-effect link, the evidence that calcium supplements aren't necessarily the best thing for you continues to mount. So talk to your doctor to see if taking them--or getting your calcium through diet alone--is right for you.
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