I am 45 and healthy, but I want to make sure I don't get osteoporosis when I'm older. Should I be taking calcium supplements now, or is that risky?
SHIRLEY L., FRESNO, CALIF.
A: Good question. There's been a lot of news about the risks and benefits of calcium supplements for men and women, and that's got some folks wondering whether to continue with the supplements they're already taking. Today, 43 percent of the U.S. population pops a daily pill that contains calcium.
A consistent level of calcium (and magnesium, plus D-3) is necessary for healthy nerves, muscles and organs, not to mention bone strength. Chances are you need a D-3 supplement: 1,000 IU a day is what we take, and we have an annual blood test to make sure our levels are 50-80. And a supplement of 600 mg of calcium with 300 mg of magnesium daily is safe to take.
But you can get too much of a good thing from calcium supplements. One study showed men 50-71 who take a 1,000 mg daily calcium supplement increase their risk of dying from heart disease by 20 percent. The reason? Calcium gets into the lining of the blood vessels, making arteries stiffer. However, 1,000 mg calcium a day from food is part of a bone and heart-friendly diet.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently announced that calcium supplements may not be the right choice for women. There just isn't proof that a daily supplement of 400 IU or less of vitamin D-3 and less than 1,000 mg of calcium prevents bone fractures.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.