Researchers at the Institute for Aging Research (IFAR) at Hebrew SeniorLife, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School (HMS), have published a study that shows no evidence of a link between calcium intake and coronary artery calcification, reassuring adults who take calcium supplements for bone health that the supplements do not appear to result in the development of calcification of blood vessels.
The paper, published today in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that study participants who had the highest calcium intake, from diet or supplements or both, had the same coronary artery calcification score as those who had the lowest calcium intake. The coronary artery calcification score represents the severity of calcified plaque clogging the arteries in the heart and is an independent predictor of heart attack.
"This study addresses a critical question about the association between calcium intake and a clinically measurable indicator of atherosclerosis in older adults," said Elizabeth (Lisa) Samelson, Ph.D., associate scientist at IFAR and an assistant professor at HMS and the lead author of the study. "There was no increased risk of calcified arteries with higher amounts of calcium intake from food or supplements."
Today's paper reported on an observational, prospective study using participants from the highly regarded Framingham Heart Study, the longest running medical study in history. The investigators examined 1,300 participants, both men and women with an average age of 60, who were asked about their diet and supplement use and then underwent CT scans of their coronary arteries four years later.