Symptoms of a Calcium Deficiency to look out for
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The global burden of cancer continues at pace, despite ramped up efforts to find a cure in the past decade. Lifestyle choices remain the best preventative measure against the disease. An increased risk of death from cancer in some people taking calcium supplements, however, warns us that supplements should be taken with caution.
The rise of the supplement market at the turn of the century promised a quick-fix approach to better health.
The efficacy, and in some cases safety of supplements have recently been thrown into question, however.
It is becoming increasingly apparent that certain pills may enhance the risk of disease, mainly through mismanagement of dosage.
In recent reviews, researchers have warned of the perils linked to calcium supplements.
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The NHS explains: “You should be able to get all the calcium you need by eating a varied and balanced diet.
“If you take calcium supplements, do not take too much as this could be harmful.
“Taking 1,500 milligrams (mg) or less a day is unlikely to cause any harm. Taking high doses of calcium could lead to stomach pain and diarrhoea.”
One meta-analysis conducted by researchers from Tufts University in Massachusetts, however, warned that people could be putting themselves at risk by taking doses higher than 1,000 mg a day.
For the analysis, researchers analysed the medical records of more than 27,000 US adults.
After more than 12 years’ follow-up, there were about 24 cancer-related deaths among supplement users compared to 12 in non-users.
The findings suggested there was a 53 percent greater risk of death from cancer.
There was also evidence that unnecessary consumption of vitamin D might increase the risk of death from any cause.
Lead scientist doctor Fang Fang Zhang, from Tuft University, said: “It is important to understand the role that the nutrients and its source might play in health outcomes, particularly if the effect might not be beneficial.
“Our results support the idea that, while supplement use contributes to an increased value of total nutrient intake, there are beneficial associations with nutrients from foods that aren’t seen with supplements.
“This study also confirms the importance of identifying the nutrient source when evaluating mortality outcomes.”
The findings came on the heels of previous studies highlighting associations between calcium supplements and a higher risk of dementia and heart attack.
The NHS says the mineral plays several key roles in our health, including the maintenance of strong bones and teeth and the management of muscle contractions.
The supplement was introduced at the beginning of the 20th century to address severe calcium deficiency among the poor.
Severe deficiency can lead to rickets in children and osteomalacia or osteoporosis in later life.
It is estimated that roughly a third of the UK population take daily supplements.
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