Advocacy for the use of calcium supplements arose at a time when there were no other effective interventions for the prevention of osteoporosis. Their promotion was based on the belief that increasing calcium intake would increase bone formation. Our current understandings of the biology of bone suggest that this does not occur, though calcium does act as a weak antiresorptive. Thus, it slows postmenopausal bone loss but, despite this, recent meta-analyses suggest no significant prevention of fractures. In sum, there is little substantive evidence of benefit to bone health from the use of calcium supplements. Against this needs to be balanced the likelihood that calcium supplement use increases cardiovascular events, kidney stones, gastrointestinal symptoms, and admissions to hospital with acute gastrointestinal problems. By Ian R. Reid, published in J of Bone Metabolism, Feb. 2014.
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