HealthDay News — Calcium supplements, taken within recommended levels, can be considered safe for the heart, according to new guidelines and an evidence review published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

To develop the new guidelines, the National Osteoporosis Foundation commissioned an updated research review, done by independent researchers at the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston. The researchers analyzed 31 studies. Four of them were clinical trials, where older adults (mostly women) were randomly assigned to take calcium, with or without vitamin D.

None of those trials showed that supplement users had higher risks of cardiovascular disease (CVD), stroke, or death than participants given placebo pills, the researchers found.1 The rest of the studies the Tufts team analyzed were observational: They looked at the relationship between people’s calcium intake, from diet or supplements, and their risk of CVD or stroke. Again, the researchers found the studies showed no consistent connection between higher calcium intake and higher CV risks.1

“The preponderance of evidence does not support cardiovascular adverse effects” from calcium supplements, wrote the authors of an accompanying editorial.2 But the editorial authors noted that calcium supplements do have side effects and they urged people to take moderate supplement doses, but only if their diets are deficient in calcium.2

Disclosures: The National Osteoporosis Foundation funded the review through a grant from Pfizer Consumer Healthcare, which makes calcium supplements.

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  1. Chung M, Tang AM, Fu Z, Wang DD, Newberry SJ. Calcium intake and cardiovascular disease risk: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis. Ann Intern Med. 2016 Oct 25. doi:10.7326/M16-1165.
  2. Margolis KL, Manson JE. Calcium supplements and cardiovascular disease risk: what do clinicians and patients need to know? Ann Intern Med. 2016 Oct 25. doi:10.7326/M16-2193.
  3. Kopecky SL, Bauer DC, Gulati M, et al. Lack of evidence linking calcium with or without vitamin D supplementation to cardiovascular disease in generally healthy adults: a clinical guideline from the National Osteoporosis Foundation and the American Society for Preventive Cardiology. Ann Intern Med. 2016 Oct 25. doi:10.7326/M16-1743.