If you live in the United States, chances are that you’re familiar with media ads with models and superstars sporting a frothy white milk mustache asking the question “Got milk?”
High in calcium, milk consumption is often encouraged in children to help promote the formation of healthy bones and teeth. The majority of all calcium -- 99 percent -- is stored in the bones and teeth.
The amount of calcium that you need varies depending on your age and sex. For example, the RDI for infants is only 200 mg daily, while the RDI for a 51-year-old woman is 1,000 mg daily and 1,200 daily for a woman over the age of 71 years.
Most of us lose calcium as we age but postmenopausal women, along with the elderly, are at particular risk for bone loss and osteoporosis due to depleted calcium levels.
As a result, it’s not uncommon for physicians to recommend calcium supplements to ensure that those at risk for osteoporosis and bone loss maintain adequate daily calcium supplies.
On the surface, taking a daily calcium supplement appears to be a quick and easy way to maintain calcium mineral levels.
It’s generally accepted that increasing calcium intake helps to prevent bone loss and osteoporosis. In addition, past research links high levels of calcium intake to lowering known risk factors for heart disease and stroke such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.
However, not everyone agrees that calcium supplements are as beneficial as previously thought. With findings counter to popular belief, according to one German study, taking calcium supplements may actually increase the risk of heart attack and caution is advised for those considering adding calcium supplements to their daily vitamin regime.
Study authors based their conclusions on records of participants in the EPIC,or European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study. In all, 24,000 EPIC participants were followed for a period of 11 years beginning in 1994.
All participants were between the ages of 35 and 64 years at the time they joined the study. Participants' diet was tracked, along with the type and frequency of supplements used.