Calcium supplements may not be that effective against bone loss and they may cause cardiovascular disease to progress.
The new IOM?s Report on the Dietary Reference Intakes for calcium were also part of the same report on vitamin D. IOM?s experts did not alter their previous RDA and UL guidelines for calcium intake. The Food and Nutrition Board focused primarily on bone health in establishing the calcium RDAs and ULs. The IOM?s expert panel did note that except for teenage girls who mostly get too little calcium that many older women may be taking calcium supplements large enough to increase the risk of kidney stones.
It appears to this reviewer the IOM?s panel may not have been concerned enough about emerging evidence linking high calcium intake primarily from supplements with more heart attacks and possibly other adverse cardiovascular disease (CVD) events. Dr. Bolland at the University of Auckland in New Zealand published a meta-analysis of 15 calcium supplement trials with more than 12,000 middle-aged and older people. These placebo-controlled clinical trials were primarily focused on reducing bone fractures in older women. Dr. Bolland reported that there was about a 30% increased risk of having a heart attack in those taking the calcium supplements compared to the placebo perhaps by increasing blood clotting and/or promoting calcification and stiffening of arteries.1 Dr. Bolland did not look at studies that combined vitamin D with calcium supplements to reduce bone fractures because there is evidence that extra vitamin D may reduce CVD risk. Another systemic review found that higher doses of vitamin D may actually reduce CVD risk but failed to find a link between increased calcium supplement use and more heart attacks.2
The IOM?s report on calcium and vitamin D paid no attention to the role excessive salt intake plays in promoting both kidney stones and osteoporosis via increasing calcium loss in the urine. Excessive salt intake also greatly increases the risk of stiffened arteries and increases intracellular calcium. Indeed, if Americans reduced their salt intake to less than 1500mg/day it is likely that the RDA for calcium could be reduced to a level that would be less likely to promote kidney stones and possibly CVD in older Americans. By James J. Kenney, PhD, RD, FACN
1. Br Med J 2010;341:c3691
2. Ann Intern Med 2010;153:315-23
Judy’s passion for cooking began with helping her grandmother make raisin oatmeal for breakfast. From there she earned her first food service job at 15, was accepted to the world-famous Culinary Institute of America at 18 (where she graduated second in her class), and went on to the Fachschule Richemont in Switzerland where she focused on pastry arts and baking. After a decade in food service for Hyatt Hotels, Judy launched Food and Health Communications to focus on flavor and health. She graduated with Summa Cum Laude distinction from Johnson and Wales University with a BS in Culinary Art, holds a master’s degree in Food Business from the Culinary Institute of America, 2 art certificates from UC Berkeley Extension, and runs a food photography studio where her love is creating fun recipes.
Judy received The Culinary Institute of America’s Pro Chef II certification, the American Culinary Federation Bronze Medal, Gold Medal, and ACF Chef of the Year. Her enthusiasm for eating nutritiously and deliciously leads her to constantly innovate and use the latest in nutritional science and Dietary Guidelines to guide her creativity, from putting new twists on fajitas to adapting Italian brownies to include ingredients like toasted nuts and cooked honey. Judy’s publishing company, Food and Health Communications, is dedicated to her vision that everyone can make food that tastes as good as it is for you.