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Dietary calcium

Dietary calcium, supplements tied to longer lifespan in women

Thursday, September 05, 2013 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: dietary calcium, supplements, womens'' lifespan

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(NaturalNews) They say it helps build strong bones and prevent bone fractures later on in life. But the mineral calcium may also play a role in determining lifespan, at least in women, according to a new observational study out of Canada. Researchers from McGill University in Montreal recently found that women who take in up to 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day, either from food or calcium supplements, tend to live longer than women who take in less or no calcium.

To arrive at this conclusion, a cohort of researchers from across Canada looked at data from the large-scale Canadian Multicentre Osteoporosis Study (CaMos), which involved more than 9,000 Canadian men and women evaluated between the years of 1995 and 2007. The team looked at calcium intake levels among all participants and compared them to the individuals' overall health outcomes, paying close attention to both death rates and the ages at which certain participants died.

During the entire 12-year trial period, a total of 1,160 participants, or about 13 percent, passed away. After looking at the data, it was determined that many of those who died consumed significantly less calcium than those still living. Similarly, insufficient calcium intake was also linked to some participants dying at an earlier age than those who took up to 1,000 mg of calcium daily, a finding with strong correlative significance.

Interestingly, a lack of calcium was only found to be detrimental in women -- there was no difference of any statistical significance between men who consumed either high or low levels of calcium. Previous studies, however, have found that both sexes need adequate levels of calcium, particularly in conjunction with magnesium, vitamin D and other important co-factors, to maintain healthy bones and avoid developing osteoporosis.

"We found that daily use of calcium supplements in women was associated with a lower risk of death, irrespective of cause," says Prof. David Goltzman, Director of McGill's Calcium Research Laboratory and lead author of the new study. "The benefit was seen for women who took doses of up to 1,000 mg per day, regardless of whether the supplement contained vitamin D."

Beware of common 'elemental' calcium supplements, which may be toxic

The findings of the McGill study are corroborated by those of the Women's Health Initiative and the Iowa Women's Health Study, both of which observed slight reductions in mortality among individuals who intake more calcium. It is important to note, however, that not all calcium is the same, which is likely why some studies have found it to be potentially dangerous.

You may have heard that taking calcium supplements can cause heart disease or stroke, or that consuming excesses of the mineral in supplement form is a potential death sentence. While not entirely true, studies that make such claims may have used either elemental forms of calcium -- that is, calcium in rock, shell or bone form -- or they used calcium tainted with lead or other contaminants. Either of these two factors could explain why calcium has been found to be dangerous in some studies.

"Lacking this 'delivery system,' the calcium may end up going to places you do not want (ectopic calcification), or go to places you do want (e.g. the bones), but in excessive amounts, stimulating unnaturally accelerated cell-division (osteoblasts), resulting in higher bone turnover rates later in life."

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