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Posted: 4/3/2015 6:06:37 AM
Dr Davis warned us long ago not to take calcium supplements for bone health because arterial calcification can take place.
A recent study has another warning:
A truly provocative study on this topic published last year in the British Journal of Nutrition somehow slipped through the cracks, because not only did we miss it but we do not recall it being reported elsewhere. Titled, "Elevated brain lesion volumes in older adults who use calcium supplements: a cross-sectional clinical observational study,"
the study looked at the possibility that since calcium supplements have
now been linked in multiple studies with vascular pathologies
associated with cardiovascular disease they may also be associated with
the occurrence of brain lesions (known on MRI scans as hyperintensities)
in older adults. These brain lesions, visible as brighter spots in MRI
scans, are known to be caused by lack of blood flow (ischemia) and
subsequent neurological damage.
According to the study,
"Brain lesions,also known as hyperintensities, are areas of damage observed on brain MRI (See Above).
These lesions are common in older adults and increase the risk of
devastating health outcomes, including depression, cognitive decline,
dementia, stroke, physical disability, hip fracture and
death. Postmortem studies have determined that these lesions form
primarily due to ischemia, especially larger lesions (.3mm) and lesions
found in depressed individuals."
study enrolled 227 older adults (60 years above) and assessed food and
supplemental calcium intakes. Participants with supplemental calcium use
above zero were categorized as supplement users. Lesion volumes were
assessed with MRI scans.
Key findings were:
Greater lesion volumes were found among calcium supplement users than non-users
influence of calcium supplements was of a magnitude similar to that of
the influence of high blood pressure (hypertension), "a well-established
risk factor for lesions."
study found that the amount of calcium used was not associated with
lesion volume and that "even low-dose supplements, by older adults may
be associated with greater lesion volumes."
after controlling for food calcium intake, age, sex, race, years of
education, energy intake, depression and hypertension, the association
between calcium supplement and lesion volumes held strong.
The study details were summarized as follows:
the present cross-sectional clinical observational study, the
association between Ca-containing dietary supplement use and lesion
volumes was investigated in a sample of 227 older adults (60 years and
above). Food and supplemental Ca intakes were assessed with the Block
1998 FFQ; participants with supplemental Ca intake above zero were
categorised as supplement users. Lesion volumes were determined from
cranial MRI (1.5 tesla) scans using a semi-automated technique; volumes
were log-transformed because they were non-normal. ANCOVA models
revealed that supplement users had greater lesion volumes than
non-users, even after controlling for food Ca intake, age, sex, race,
years of education, energy intake, depression and hypertension (Ca
supplement use: β = 0.34, SE 0.10, F(1,217)= 10.98, P= 0.0011).
influence of supplemental Ca use on lesion volume was of a magnitude
similar to that of the influence of hypertension, a well-established
risk factor for lesions. Among the supplement users, the amount of
supplemental Ca was not associated with lesion volume (β = - 0.000035,
SE 0.00 015, F(1,139)= 0.06, P= 0.81). The present study demonstrates
that the use of Ca-containing dietary supplements, even low-dose
supplements, by older adults may be associated with greater lesion
volumes. Evaluation of randomised controlled trials is warranted to
determine whether this relationship is a causal one.
The researchers concluded their study as follows:
use of Ca [calcium] -containing dietary supplements by older adults was
found to be associated with greater brain lesion volumes, even after
controlling for the usual amount of dietary Ca intake. Interestingly,
neither the amount of supplemental Ca nor the duration of supplemental
Ca use was associated with lesion volume. These findings indicate that
adverse biochemical effects of supplemental Ca use may exist in older
adults, regardless of the dose."