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Calcium supplements: Are they worth the risk to your heart?

A common daily routine for women may actually be causing more harm than good.

Many women take calcium supplements to prevent osteoporosis but the pills have come under fire for potentially increasing the risk for heart problems.

Nancy Dennis took calcium supplements for 25 years but started to question her daily dose once studies showed the pills might increase the risk for heart problems.

She has a family history of heart disease so she asked her doctor for guidance.

Nancy Dennis said, “She was very clear, discontinue taking the calcium supplements. There was no upside in my continuing to take it.”

Dr. Karol Watson is Dennis’ cardiologist and says many of her female patients want to know how they can prevent osteoporosis and heart disease.

Dr. Karol Watson, with UCLA’s Medical Center, said, “We know both of these things are going to happen as we age but what is your own personal risk? What is your greatest threat to life?”

For a third of all women, that risk is heart disease.

Watson said, “There is absolutely no evidence that calcium from dietary sources, like milk, like green leafy vegetables, those have never been associated with harm. It’s only the calcium supplements that have been associated with harm.”

Dennis is now making sure to include those healthy foods in her diet and doesn’t feel the need to supplement with anything else.

She said, “The only guilt I felt was literally when I poured the pills out into the trash, I thought about how much money I was wasting.”

A government advisory panel recently recommended against postmenopausal women taking a low-dose calcium supplement to prevent fractures.

There isn’t enough evidence yet to say whether the pills benefit young women.

The Council for Responsible Nutrition says calcium is necessary at every stage of life.

They say calcium supplements are a safe option for women who don’t get enough in their diet.