I am 60 years old and I’ve always been health-conscious. I eat right and exercise three times a week. Recently, I have read that too much calcium may increase your risk of a heart attack. Is this true? Also, how much is too much?

Mary

Dear Mary,

How often did you hear “Drink your milk” when you were a child? Milk is a good source of calcium, which is needed for healthy bones. Our bodies build bone until about age 18. After that point, we must consume adequate calcium mineral in our diet or use supplements to maintain healthy bones.

There is controversy among experts about the link between excess calcium supplement and heart attacks, plus studies have produced mixed results. Some studies have even found the decreased risk of heart disease with calcium, especially when consumed in the diet plan.

One theory is that, whenever a calcium supplement is taken, the body uses what it needs and leaves any excess amount in the blood. These calcium bits are deposited onto the walls of the arteries, increasing plaque, which narrows the particular arteries and reduces blood flow to the heart. When blood flow is reduced, so will be oxygen. Ultimately, a section associated with the coronary heart doesn’t get enough oxygen to survive, resulting in a myocardial infarction, or heart attack.

For adults, the particular recommended daily allowance of calcium is usually 1, 000 mg up to age 50. That amount increases to 1, 200 mg per day for women over 50 plus men older than 70. Why the age difference? Whenever women go through menopause, the body’s estrogen significantly decreases. Estrogen is needed to hinder bone breakdown. While testosterone in men serves the same function, there is no sharp decline in this hormone like there is with estrogen within women.

Exactly how much is definitely a lot of? The upper limit for calcium mineral intake can be 2, 500 mg for men age 51 and more than; for women exactly the same age, it’s 2, 500 magnesium.

Remember that vitamin D is essential for calcium supplement absorption. This vitamin can be obtained from sunlight, fortified milk and fatty fish such as mackerel and tuna. It also is added to soy milk, juice and fortified cereals.

It is always best to obtain calcium requirements met by diet. One simple reason for this is certainly you are less likely in order to ingest extra amounts associated with the mineral this way. Most of us don’t drink a gallon of dairy a day or even eat 10 cups of kale. Another option is a 50/50 plan. Get half your calcium needs in your diet plus take a supplement that contains 500 mg of calcium.

When selecting a calcium supplement, remember that calcium citrate is better absorbed. It’s also wise to choose a supplement along with USP on the label. This means the United States Pharmacopeia has tested the product for potency and absorption.

Some good sources of dietary calcium include:

• Fortified soy whole milk, 1 cup, 80-500 mg (varies with brand)

•  Cow’s milk (2%), 1 cup, 295 mg

•  Spinach, 1 cup raw, 55 mg

•  Kale, a single cup raw, 95 mg

•  Cheddar cheese, 1 slice, 205 magnesium

•  Greek yogurt (non-fat) 8 ounces, 200 mg

•  Navy beans, 1 cup cooked, 120 mg

•  Tofu (firm), ½ mug, 260 magnesium

Until next time, be healthful!

Dear Dietitian

Leanne McCrate, RD, LD, aka Beloved Dietitian, is an award-winning dietitian based in Missouri. Her mission is to educate the public on sound, science-based nutrition. Do you have a nutrition question? Email her today at [email protected] com. Dear Dietitian does not endorse any products, health programs, or diet plans.

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