In an assessment of the scientific literature, reported as a perspective piece today in the New England Journal of Medicine, a UC San Francisco researcher says patients and health care practitioners should focus on getting calcium from the diet, rather than supplements, when possible. “Osteoporosis may result from inadequate calcium intake and it’s quite common for certain segments of our population, such as the elderly, to consume less than the recommend amount,” said Douglas C. Bauer, MD, UCSF professor of Medicine, Epidemiology and Biostatistics. “But a high calcium diet should be the preferred method to receive adequate amounts of the nutrient. The Institute of Medicine’s recommended dosage for post–menopausal women over the age of 50 and men over 70 is 1,200 mg per day. “If it is not possible to consume enough calcium from the diet, the use of calcium supplements is most likely safe and not associated with cardiovascular outcomes,” he said.
This article reviews recommendations regarding calcium intake and uncertainty about benefits as well as potential risks of calcium supplementation. In particular, some studies have suggested an increased cardiovascular risk, but findings have been inconsistent.