As women get older, their bones get weaker, putting them at risk for broken bones and hip fractures. That's one reason why doctors frequently recommend that women take calcium supplements, especially after menopause. And the recommended dose has been pretty high: 1,200 mg a day. Still, the recommendation has had its critics over the years, with some studies showing that calcium supplements don't really prevent fractures.
This week, Norwegian researchers concluded that calcium supplements may do more harm than good. Though their examination of the data showed that taking the supplement could strengthen bones, it upped a woman's risk for having a heart attack or a stroke, especially in those over 65. The chances were elevated enough so the researchers felt the risks outweighed the benefits, especially for women already showing signs of heart disease.
So talk to your doctor about taking calcium supplements. It may be that you can get enough calcium to protect your bones by eating two servings of dairy, or by taking a much lower dose (like 500 mg).