Reduce the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease with Dietary Calcium Supplement

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A recent article in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has shown that dietary calcium intakes can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in Korean women while having neutral effects on stroke and fracture risk.

Nutrition specialists are now recommending calcium supplements for everyone. Calcium is one of the essential minerals which have been shown to be effective in so many cases including preventing osteoporosis and other conditions.

Although some research has demonstrated protective properties of calcium supplementation in cardiovascular disease, this role is not completely understood, and there remains some controversy in the cardio protective effects of calcium.

This study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, has evaluated the effect of calcium supplementation on prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD), stroke, and fractures in a Korean population.  The Korean population has a much lower natural intake of dietary calcium than in the populations of the previous research.

The researchers, using data obtained from the Korean Genome Epidemiology Study, have performed a prospective cohort study with an enrollment of 2,158 men and 2,153 women in Korea. Participants filled out a questionnaire to evaluate their dietary habits and were followed up for a mean time of 9 years. Overall cases of deaths, cardiovascular diseases events, fractures and strokes were recorded during the follow-up period.

Based on the obtained results, during follow-up, 242 and 100 deaths, 149 and 150 cardiovascular diseases events, 58 and 82 stroke events, and 211 and 292 incident fractures occurred in men and women, respectively. Dietary calcium intake was associated with a higher intake of fat, protein, sodium, phosphate, vegetables and fruits. High calcium intake was correlated with a lower cardiovascular diseases event in women.  There was no correlation between calcium intake and stoke, fractures, or all-cause deaths.  In men, there was no correlation between calcium intake and any of the medical events, including cardiovascular disease.

Mechanisms regarding the association between dietary calcium intake and risk of CVD or stroke are not clear and indicate the need for further research before recommendations can be made for calcium supplementation.

Regarding study findings, authors have concluded that in Korean women, an increased dietary calcium intake was associated with decreased cardiovascular diseases events with no influence on the risk of fractures and strokes. read more…

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Food first to promote good #cardiovascular #health

Cardiovascular disease continues to be responsible for more deaths in the United States than any other disease. As physicians, we use medications to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, to control the workload of the heart and to increase blood and oxygen flow.

In some cases, we also use surgical procedures to address life-threatening cardiovascular conditions. But we are often asked by our patients if vitamin and mineral supplements could help in managing their condition or in generally improving their cardiovascular health.

This is a viable question, particularly since supplement labels make some very dramatic claims. While some research shows that supplements may help lower cholesterol or blood pressure, it remains unclear if they can prevent or improve cardiovascular disease. It’s important for patients to understand the science of supplements and to have realistic expectations about how they might impact cardiovascular health.

Popular supplements

There is a wide variety of supplements that claim cardiovascular benefits. Some of the most popular and the ones we are asked about most include:

• Fish oil, garlic — attributed to preventing plaque build-up in arteries, lowering blood pressure and increasing “good” cholesterol.

• Antioxidants — credited for repairing cell damage caused by free radicals, including the cells in our hearts and lungs.

• Vitamin D, B vitamins — said to be helpful in lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease and heart disease.

• Fiber — found to reduce the amount of cholesterol your body absorbs from food.

• Probiotics — thought to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

It is true that all of these can positively impact cardiovascular health, but the ingredients that do the work are all found in food, and recommended daily levels can usually be maintained by simply eating properly.

Eating fish each week and cooking with garlic or garlic oil can help with plaque build-up and high cholesterol. Antioxidants can be found in berries, dark chocolate and dark green vegetables. Dairy products, egg yolks and whole grain cereals contain vitamins D and B which can lower risk of heart disease. And fiber and probiotics that help lower blood pressure are found in vegetables, fruits, beans and grains. Isolating these important nutrients in pill form rather than ingesting them through food is not advisable.

Food first

Food contains hundreds of ingredients that, together, promote good cardiovascular health. Because there is no supplement that can adequately replace all the benefits of food, it is best to use food as your primary source of nutrition, then supplement any gaps if necessary.

Assess your overall eating habits to determine if you can make small dietary changes that would allow you to avoid supplements. If there are one or two food groups you dislike, learn about the key nutrients in them and then choose a supplement to meet only those needs. If you eat a large amount of fast food and frequently drink low-nutrition drinks such as colas or tea, you should consider making significant overall changes in your diet before adding supplements.

Supplement safety

Patients who have been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease should talk to their physicians prior to using any supplement, even a simple multivitamin. Certain supplements may actually be harmful to these patients since they can reduce the effectiveness of medications prescribed for heart failure, coronary artery disease or high cholesterol. In some instances, supplements such as L-carnitine and lecithin can even contribute to plaque buildup in the arteries of certain people.

If you are under the care of a physician for any cardiovascular condition, you must follow your doctor’s advice and be certain to discuss the effect of any supplement you consider. If you do not suffer from a cardiovascular condition, seek advice from your family physician or a nutritionist who can help you make an informed choice. read more…

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