Calcium May Help You Live Longer

A group of Swedish researchers has found that men who consume more than the recommended daily amount of calcium are less likely to die than their counterparts who consume little calcium. Their study, titled “Dietary Calcium and Magnesium Intake and Mortality: A Prospective Study of Men,” appears in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Lead author of the study, Dr. Joanna Kaluza of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, investigated 23,000 Swedish men who ranged in age from 45 to 79 years at the outset of the study, following them for 10 years. The men’s main sources of calcium were milk, milk products, and cereal products. None of them used dietary calcium supplements.

From 1998 through December 2007, 2,358 deaths from all causes were recorded in the Swedish population registry. From 1998 through December 2006, 819 deaths from cardiovascular disease and 738 cancer deaths were recorded in the Swedish cause-of-death registry.

Compared to the men who had the least amount of calcium in their diets, the men who consumed the most calcium had a 25 percent lower risk of dying from any cause and a 23 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease. Calcium intake did not, however, influence the risk of dying from cancer.

The U.S. recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for calcium is 1,000 milligrams for men 19 to 50 years old and 1,200 milligrams for men aged 50 and over. The men in the Swedish study on the high end of the calcium intake range consumed an average of 2,000 milligrams a day, compared to about 1,000 milligrams for those at the low end.

Calcium could influence mortality risk in many ways. Calcium can lower inflammation by increasing levels of anti-inflammatory messengers. It can also lower blood pressure, presumably by inhibiting a regulatory system called the renin-angiotensin system. 

The authors stated, “This population-based, prospective study of men with relatively high intakes of dietary calcium and magnesium showed that intake of calcium above that recommended daily may reduce all-cause mortality.”

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American Journal of Epidemiology, online Advanced Access – February 19, 2010

Reuters Health news release

Study abstract

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