Calcium and Vitamin D play a key role in bone health. People who are deficient in their Calcium and Vitamin D intake are at a high risk of developing osteoporosis in their lifetime.
There has been a lot of confusion lately on how much calcium and vitamin D people need. The paper published last year about calcium intake and its possible risk for heart attack has caused a lot of concern amongst the people. However, there are plenty of evidence that have established no connection between calcium supplements and heart disease.
The women’s health initiative for example was a randomized controlled trial which included 36,000 women who took 1000 mg of calcium supplements along with 400 IU of vitamin D daily. There was no increase risk for heart attacks or strokes. The key is not to take excessive amount of calcium which could possibly could increase heart disease. The committee concluded that daily calcium of 700 mg is sufficient for children aged 1 to 3 years; 1,000 mg is sufficient for children aged 4 to 8 years; and no more than 1,300 mg is sufficient for adolescents aged 9 to 18 years. For adults aged 19 to 71 years, 1,000 mg is sufficient to meet daily calcium needs. Women aged 51 years and older and men older than 71 years need no more than 1,200 mg per day.
A lot of my patients think that they can take as much supplements as they want and it would be okay. However, supplements can also be harmful. One of the things that may be true is that excessive amount of calcium more than 2000 mg/day could be harmful to the heart. Most adults need about 1000-1200 mg of calcium daily. My preference is to obtain all of it through diet. However, there are many people who do not take dairy products on a daily basis. The good news is that there are a lot of vegetables, fruits, and nuts that contain calcium as well.
At the same time, most of us do not have a balanced diet. Therefore, my recommendations to my patients who do not have a well enough diet to make 1000-1200 mg of calcium is to take one 500mg calcium /400 IU vitamin D supplement per day and try to get the rest through dietary intake.