“Osteoporosis is a common problem in the elderly. Because calcium deficiency contributes to osteoporosis, daily calcium intake of 1,000 to 1,200 mg is recommended,” says study author Silke Kern, M.D., Ph.D. with the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.
“Recently, however, the use of supplements and their effect on health has been questioned,” she adds.
According to a study published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, calcium supplements may increase the risk of developing dementia in senior women with cerebrovascular disease.
To test their theory, the team ran a study using a population of elderly women initially free from dementia. A total of 700 women between the ages of 70-92 were involved in the analysis and were followed for 5 years.
The participants received tests of memory and thinking skills at the beginning and end of the study, and a CT brain scan was performed on 447 participants at the start of the research.
Also examined, was the use of calcium supplements by participants, and whether they received a diagnosis of dementia over the duration of the study.
The results of the study were startling – it showed that when compared with women who do not take calcium supplements, women who take calcium supplements are twice as likely to develop dementia. However, the increased risk was only observed in women with cerebrovascular disease.
Moreover, women with a history of stroke who also took calcium supplements were seven times more likely to develop dementia than women with a history of stroke who did not supplement calcium, reports Medical News Today.
However, before anyone decides to stop taking calcium supplements, Dr Silke Kern says,”It is important to note that our study is observational, so we cannot assume that calcium supplements cause dementia.”
The good news is, women without a history of stroke and women without white matter lesions had no greater risk of dementia when taking calcium supplements.