Use in Prevention and Therapy

Colon cancer. Increased intake of calcium (together with vitamin D) may reduce the risk of developing colon cancer.6 7 Bile salts and certain fatty acids can stimulate colonic cell proliferation; calcium may exert its protective effect by binding to these substances.

High blood pressure. Calcium can reduce blood pressure in hypertensive patients, particularly those who are salt sensitive or who have low plasma levels of renin (the kidney pressor hormone) (Fig. 3.10).18,9 Risk of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (preeclampsia) may be reduced by ample intake of calcium10.

Fig. 3.10: Effect on blood pressure of long-term calcium supplementation in hypertensive women. A

daily supplement of 1500 mg of calcium given to women with hypertension for 4 years produced significant and sustained lowering of systolic blood pressure. In the supplemented group mean systolic press-urefell by 13 mm Hg; inthe unsupplemented group it increased by 7 mm Hg.

(Adapted from Johnson NE, et al. Am J Clin Nutr. 1985:42;12)

Osteoporosis. High calcium intakes during childhood and adolescence help achieve peak bone mass.11 High intakes during adulthood can reduce or prevent loss of bone calcium associated with aging.12

Periodontal disease. Together with proper oral hygeine, calcium may help maintain the alveolar bone that supports the teeth.

Disorders of absorption and metabolism. In digestive disorders that produce malabsorption (such as Crohn and celiac disease) as well as in chronic renal failure, calcium may be beneficial in maintaining body stores.1,2

In healthy adults, oral intakes of calcium up to 2 g per day do not have significant side effects or toxicity. People with hyperparathyroidism and people who form calcium-oxalate kidney stones should avoid high intakes of calcium. In healthy adults, high intakes of calcium do not appear to increase the risk of kidney stones.

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