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Maturitas. 2011 Aug;69(4):289-95. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2011.04.014. Epub 2011 May 28.

Calcium supplementation: balancing the cardiovascular risks.

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Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.


Calcium supplementation has been widely accepted as a key strategy in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. Its role has been undermined, to some extent, by its disappointing effects on fracture in randomised controlled trials, but its use has continued to be encouraged on the grounds that it is physiologically appealing, and is unlikely to cause harm. The latter assumption is now under threat from accumulating evidence that calcium supplement use is associated with an increased risk of myocardial infarction and, possibly, stroke. The latest data, based on meta-analysis of trials involving 29,000 participants, indicate that this risk is not mitigated by co-administration of vitamin D, and that the number of cardiovascular events caused is likely to be greater than the number of fractures prevented. These findings indicate that calcium supplementation probably does not have a role as a routine preventative agent and that dietary advice is the appropriate way to attain an adequate calcium intake in most situations. Patients at high risk of fracture need to take interventions of proven anti-fracture efficacy. Available evidence suggests that this efficacy is not dependent on the co-administration of calcium supplements.

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