Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Calcium in the news

It's common knowledge that:

Calcium is an important component of a healthy diet. Calcium is essential for the normal growth and maintenance of bones and teeth, and calcium requirements must be met throughout life. Long-term calcium deficiency can lead to osteoporosis, in which the bone deteriorates and there is an increased risk of fractures. While a lifelong deficit can affect bone and tooth formation, over-retention can cause hypercalcemia (elevated levels of calcium in the blood), impaired kidney function and decreased absorption of other minerals.[5] -Wikipedia
Scientists at Texas A&M AgriLife's Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center have genetically modified a carrot which helps people absorb more calcium. From Science Daily:
"If you eat a serving of the modified carrot, you'd absorb 41 percent more calcium than from a regular carrot," said Dr. Jay Morris, lead author on the paper, a post doctorate researcher at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
However, on the flip side, too much calcium can cause these problems:
Hypercalcemia per se can result in fatigue, depression, confusion, anorexia, nausea, vomiting, constipation, pancreatitis or increased urination "Bones, stones, groans, and psychic moans" is a saying which will help you remember the signs and symptoms of hypercalcemia; if it is chronic it can result in urinary calculi (renal stones or bladder stones). Abnormal heart rhythms can result, and EKG findings of a short QT interval and a widened T wave suggest hypercalcemia. - Wikipedia
Researchers in New Zealand have now determined that calcium supplements are also associated with other health risks. From Reuters:

Calcium supplements may increase the risk of heart attack and stroke in healthy postmenopausal women, a study in New Zealand has found.

The women recruited had a mean age of 74 and had been postmenopausal for more than five years. Those who were receiving treatment for osteoporosis, already taking calcium supplements, or suffering any major ongoing disease were excluded.

Of the 1,471 participants, 732 were given calcium supplements and 739 given placebos. They were followed up every six months for five years. Researchers also checked hospital admissions and reviewed all death certificates for study participants to identify any unreported events.

Heart attacks were more common in the calcium group, with 31 women in that group suffering a total of 36 such events, while 21 women on placebo suffered 22 such events. More strokes were also seen in the calcium group, with 34 women suffering 37 such events, while 25 women on placebo suffered 26 such events.

Back to moderation...

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