I have long been an advocate of getting your vitamins and minerals from food rather than relying totally on vitamin and mineral supplements.  For instance, a 3-ounce serving of salmon is 208 milligrams of calcium, a glass of orange juice fortified with Calcium and Vitamin D is 320 milligrams—the daily requirement, for menopausal women, according to Osteoporosis Canada is 1,200 mgs per day.

While it’s desirable to eat a balanced diet, for many in this fast paced world, it is just not possible. And that’s where supplements come into play. Canadians are huge buyers of supplements paying an estimated $374 million a year.

 However, some supplements may actually be harmful, especially calcium.  A recent study, released by the Journal of the American Heart Association, backs up what many experts already claim about calcium supplements.  That too much calcium from supplements rather than from food can lead to plaque buildup in arteries which will affect your heart.

It’s not clear why.  According to a nutrition professor at the University of North Carolina, that worked on the study, “there is clearly something different in how the body uses and responds to supplements versus intake through diet that makes it riskier.”

The study team looked at 2,700 people taking part in a larger survey. They had filled out questionnaires in 2000 and got CT scans— in 2000 and again in 2010. These CT scans can assess and visualize whether calcium-heavy deposits are building up in the arteries.

Those who ate more than 1,400 milligrams of calcium a day were 27 percent less likely to this buildup than the others, the study found.

But when they looked at the source of calcium, they found those who took supplements were more likely to develop the blockages.

People who took calcium pills were about 22 percent more likely to develop dangerous buildups called plaque in their arteries than people who did not take them, according to the research.

But people who also ate a lot of calcium in food seemed to be protected, according to the team at Johns Hopkins University

The daily recommended intake of calcium is 1,000 -1500 milligrams a day.  What I do, is total up the amount of calcium I have in a day, whether it’s from a latte, yogurt or hard cheese and then top it up with a calcium supplement, only if needed, to reach my daily requirement. That way I am assured I am not overdoing it and creating a problem where none should exist.

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