A new study published by researchers in Germany warns that taking calcium supplements may increase the risk of heart attack.
The study "Calcium and cardiovascular disease" was published online by Heart on May 23. Researchers concluded that calcium supplements "should be taken with caution."
Researchers at the German Cancer Research Centre, in Heidelberg based their study on 24,000 men and women whom they followed for a decade. The research showed regular consumers of calcium supplements were 86 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack compared to those not using supplements.
Although a link was established in the study between calcium supplements and heart attacks there was no cause and effect found. The connection was discounted by Taylor Wallace, PhD, senior director of scientific and regulatory affairs for the Council for Responsible Nutrition. Quoted in WebMD he said "The study is not consistent with the total body of science."
Calcium is recommended for women to counter the risks of osteoporosis and dietary shortfalls are often supplemented with pills. Dr Carrie Ruxton, from The Health Supplements Information Service, told the BBC "Osteoporosis is a real issue for women and it is irresponsible for scientists to advise that women cut out calcium supplements on the basis of one flawed survey, particularly when the link between calcium, vitamin D and bone health is endorsed by the European Food Safety Authority."
Commenting on the study researchers at the University of Auckland in New Zealand said "The evidence is also becoming steadily stronger that it is not safe, nor is it particularly effective. Therefore, the administration of this micro nutrient should not be encouraged; rather people should be advised to obtain their calcium intake from an appropriately balanced diet. We should return to seeing calcium as an important component of a balanced diet and not as a low cost panacea to the universal problem of postmenopausal bone loss."
The NHS only recommends obtaining the necessary intake of calcium to maintain strong bones through eating a healthy balanced diet.