Recent media reports and studies have left many confused about calcium supplements and their effect on the heart. While some studies have suggested a possible link between calcium supplements and heart-related problems, substantial evidence supports that taking the recommended amount of calcium supplements poses no risk to the heart.
What we know is that experts agree getting enough calcium is critical for bone health and overall health. And we also know that osteoporosis medications don’t work without calcium and vitamin D.
NOF recommends the following three steps for bone health:
- Aim to get the recommended daily amount of calcium you need from food first and supplement only as needed to make up for any shortfall. Use our calcium calculation tool to estimate your daily calcium intake from food and review our list of calcium-rich foods for new ideas to help you incorporate calcium in your diet.
- Maintain an overall healthy lifestyle by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, exercising and not smoking or drinking too much alcohol.
- If you are diagnosed with osteoporosis, work with your healthcare provider to determine an appropriate treatment plan that includes calcium, vitamin D, safe exercise and medication. Follow your plan and consult with your healthcare provider before deciding to stop taking your supplements or medication.
How much calcium and vitamin D do you need?
NOF recommends that women age 50 and younger get 1,000 mg of calcium from all sources daily and that women age 51 and older get 1,200 mg. For men, NOF recommends 1,000 mg of calcium daily for those age 70 and younger and 1,200 mg for men age 71 and older.
And don’t forget about vitamin D, which enables your body to absorb calcium. Most adults under age 50 need 400-800 international units (IU) daily and most adults age 50 and older need 800-1,000 IU daily. Some people need more vitamin D to maintain healthy blood levels of the vitamin, so be sure to talk with your healthcare provider to determine the amount that’s right for you. Visit Calcium and Vitamin D: What You Need to Know for our complete recommendations on calcium and vitamin D.
Remember, regardless of what you hear or read, always talk to your healthcare provider about your individual needs for calcium and vitamin D and never stop taking your supplements without talking to your healthcare provider first.