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Lipid Disorders and Calcium

Read more about Calcium.

Overview

Some research suggests that calcium helps raise levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol, improving the ratio of HDL to LDL ("bad") cholesterol.

Effect of Calcium on Lipid Disorders

It appears that calcium supplements help increase levels of "good" (HDL) cholesterol. This improves the ratio of HDL to LDL ("bad") cholesterol, which is beneficial.

Research Evidence on Calcium

In a 12-month study of 223 postmenopausal women, calcium supplements (calcium citrate at a dose of 1 g daily) significantly improved the ratio of HDL ("good") cholesterol to LDL ("bad") cholesterol.155

How to Use Calcium

In the study mentioned here, calcium supplements (specifically, calcium citrate) provided benefits at a dose of 1 g daily.

Types of Professionals That Would Be Involved with This Treatment

  • Naturopathic doctor
  • Integrative MD
  • Clinical nutritionist or registered dietitian

Side Effects and Warnings

#Safety Issues

In general, it's safe to take up to 2,500 mg of calcium daily, although this is more than you need. ^[1] Greatly excessive intake of calcium can cause numerous side effects, including dangerous or painful deposits of calcium within the body.

Note:If you have cancer, hyperparathyroidism, or sarcoidosis, you should take calcium only under a physician's supervision.

Some evidence hints that use of calcium supplements might slightly increase kidney stone risk. ^[3] However, increased intake of calcium from fooddoes not seem to have this effect and could even help prevent stones. ^[4] One study found that if calcium supplements are taken with food, there is no increased risk. ^[5] Calcium citrate supplements may be particularly safe regarding kidney stones because the citrate portion of this supplement is used to treatkidney stones. ^[6] There is preliminary evidence that calcium supplementation in healthy, post-menopausal women may slightly increase the risk of cardiovascular events, such as myocardial infarction. However, it remains far from clear whether this possible risk outweighs the benefits of calcium supplementation in this population. ^[7] Large observational studies have found that, in men, higher intakes of calcium are associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer. ^[8] This seems to be the case whether the calcium comes from milk or from calcium supplements.

Calcium supplements combined with high doses of vitamin D might interfere with some of the effects of drugs in the calcium channel blocker family. ^[9] It is very important that you consult your physician before trying this combination.

Concerns have been raised that the aluminum in some antacids may not be good for you. ^[10] There is some evidence that calcium citrate supplements might increase the absorption of aluminum; ^[11] ^[12] ^[13] ^[14] for this reason, it might not be a good idea to take calcium citrate at the same time of day as aluminum-containing antacids. Another option is to use different forms of calcium, or to avoid antacids containing aluminum.

When taken over the long term, thiazide diuretics tend to increase levels of calcium in the body by decreasing the amount excreted by the body. ^[15] ^[16] ^[17] It's not likely that this will cause a problem. Nonetheless, if you are using thiazide diuretics, you should consult with your physician on the proper doses of calcium and vitamin D for you.

Finally, calcium may interfere with the absorption of antibiotics in the tetracycline and fluoroquinolone families as well as thyroid hormone. ^[18] ^[19] ^[20] ^[21] ^[22] ^[23] If you are taking any of these drugs, you should take your calcium supplements at least 2 hours before or after your medication dose.

#Interactions You Should Know About

  • You may need more calcium if you are taking:
    • Corticosteroids
    • Heparin
    • Isoniazid
  • If you are taking aluminum hydroxide , you should take calcium citrate at least 2 hours apart to avoid increasing aluminum absorption.
  • You may need more calcium if you are taking the following anticonvulsants:
    • Phenytoin (Dilantin)
    • Carbamazepine
    • Phenobarbital
    • Primidone
    • Note:It may be advisable to take your dose of anticonvulsant and your calcium supplement at least 2 hours apart because each interferes with the other's absorption.
  • If you are taking the following medications, you should take your calcium supplement at least 2 hours before or after your dose of medication because calcium interferes with the absorption (and vice versa):
    • Antibiotics in the tetracycline or fluoroquinolone (Cipro, Floxin, Noroxin) families
    • Thyroid hormone
  • Do not take extra calcium except on the advice of a physician if you are taking Thiazide diuretics.
  • Do not take calcium together with high-dose vitamin D except on the advice of a physician if you are taking calcium channel blockers .
  • You may need extra calcium if you are taking:
    • Iron
    • Manganese
    • Zinc
    • Chromium
    • Ideally, you should take calcium at a different time of day from these other minerals because it may interfere with their absorption.
  • It may be advisable to wait 2 hours after taking calcium supplements to eat soy (or vice versa). A constituent of soy called phytic acid can interfere with the absorption of calcium.
  • Taking supplemental calcium may be helpful if you are taking metformin.

References

  1. Reid IR, Mason B, Horne A, et al. Effects of calcium supplementation on serum lipid concentrations in normal older women: A randomized controlled trial. Am J Med. 2002;112:343-347.

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