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Hey Healthy Mama!

So listen. We tend to assume that anything that’s natural is safe, and that anything that can be found in food is automatically natural.

Case in point: calcium supplements.

I’d like bring your attention to a few flaws in that reasoning, and hopefully get you better informed on the true nature of these “natural” supplements…

In short, calcium supplements are not natural—and they are not 100% safe. Yet doctors write endless prescriptions for them. 

To be fair, that’s true of thousands of drugs, and doctors write us endless prescriptions for them all the same. Their reasoning? The possible benefit outweighs the possible risk.

Okay, sure. Calcium may be linked to heart attack or stroke, but it definitely does prevent terrible bone breaks and fractures, which can often lead to death. For example, one in five women who suffer from hip fractures won’t live a year beyond their injury. 

Yikes. Get me that calcium, right?! 

Not so fast, mama…

Let’s look at how effective those calcium supplements really are. We already know that milk consumption doesn’t lower our risk of bone injuries—but that could be due to the added risk of a diet high in galactose sugars coming from milk. 

Pure calcium, without the milk? Studies suggest that there is no link between calcium intake and risk of hip fracture. In randomized studies, in fact, test subjects given calcium supplements may have been at as much as 64% higher risk of hip fractures than the control group.

Um, say what?! Yep, seems like calcium supplements might increase (not decrease) risk of injury.

Then, why do we think it’s good for us again? We can trace that myth back to an important 1992 study that concluded calcium supplements (combined with vitamin D) reduced hip fracture rates by 43%. However test subjects were women in nursing homes and other institutions, who likely were already vitamin D deficient. Obviously in those special cases, correcting deficiencies through supplementation would improve bone health.

For the rest of us, with healthy lives and normal vitamin levels, the advice on calcium supplements is simple: don’t. 

When it comes to these supplements, lacking clear evidence that they benefit our health, they simply are not worth any potential danger. (Of course, there are times that they play an important role—for example, in treating osteoporosis.) For normal, preventative measures, it just doesn’t make sense.

Here’s the break-down: calcium might reduce our risk of fracture (not specifically hip injury) by 10%. It might also cause heart attack or stroke in 2% of users (leading to death in maybe half of those cases). 

The decision is yours, beautiful, savvy mama, but personally, I’ll take a bone break over a heart attack any day!

How much calcium do we need (from actually natural, dietary sources)? Recommendations range wide, from 700mg in the UK to 1,200 in the US! Based on newer studies, it seems like the UK is probably closer to the mark.

To repeat: we can get all the vitamins we need from our diet. Learn how to eat for your best health with Wild Nutrition: Your 30-Day Revolution to Plant-Based Vitality, and never wonder if you’re getting your body what it needs again!

xx

Donna

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