The effects of calcium on blood lipids.




American Journal of Medicine

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Consumer Data: Calcium Hyperlipidemia
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Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body. Average healthy males have about two and a half to three pounds of calcium while females have about two pounds. Approximately 99 percent of calcium is present in the bones and teeth, which leaves only about one percent in cells and body fluids. While the most important function of calcium involves the maintenance of skeletal health, the small percentage of calcium outside the bones is used to maintain a variety of vital body functions.

Calcium may initiate muscle contractions. For this reason it plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy heartbeat. It is also involved in the body’s blood clotting process. On the cellular level, calcium regulates the passage of nutrients and wastes through cell membranes. It is also involved in the regulation of various enzymes that control muscle contraction, fat digestion and metabolism. Finally, calcium regulates the transmission of nerve impulses.

Milk and dairy products are the major source of dietary calcium for most people. Other good sources are dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, legumes, nuts and whole grains.

A recent study published in the American Journal of Medicine examined the effects of calcium supplementation on blood lipids in older women. 223 healthy postmenopausal women were randomly assigned to receive a calcium citrate supplement or placebo. These women were not receiving any treatment for hyperlipidemia (high blood lipids) or osteoporosis. For one year, 111 women received 1 gram of calcium daily and 112 women were administered a placebo. At baseline, 2,6, and 12 months, the levels of HDL and LDL cholesterol were measured. After 12 months, the ratio of HDL cholesterol levels to LDL cholesterol had increased more in the calcium group than the placebo group. HDL, or "high-density lipoprotein", does not form plaque and is thus called the "good" cholesterol. These results were due to a 7% increase of HDL cholesterol and a 6% decrease in LDL cholesterol. The authors concluded that, "Calcium citrate supplementation causes beneficial changes in circulating lipids in postmenopausal women. This suggests that a reappraisal of the indications for calcium supplementation is necessary, and that its cost effectiveness may have been underestimated."1


1. Reid iR, et al. Effects of calcium supplementation on serum lipid concentrations in normal older women: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Med. Apr 2002;112(5):343-7.