CRN Foundation determines calcium supplementation safe after panel review
WASHINGTON — Individuals who do not obtain recommended intake levels of calcium through dietary sources can safely utilize calcium supplements to achieve optimal bone health, an expert panel concluded last week in the November online edition of Advances in Nutrition.
“There is a strong body of evidence from a variety of rigorous scientific studies reinforcing the benefits of calcium in promoting bone growth and maintenance," stated panelist Robert Heaney, Osteoporosis Research Center, Creighton University Medical Center. "After reviewing the entire scope of scientific literature for calcium, we are now more confident than ever in both its health benefits and safety,” he said. “Consumers can feel confident about the safety of their calcium supplements and should continue taking them with confidence. They should, however, be aware of how much calcium their diets provide, and then supplement accordingly.”
In addition to Heaney, panel experts included: Stephen Kopecky of the Division of Cardiovascular Diseases, Mayo Clinic; Kevin Maki, of Provident-Biofortis; John Hathcock, former SVP scientific and international affairs, Council for Responsible Nutrition; Douglas MacKay, VP scientific and regulatory affairs, CRN; and Taylor Wallace, senior director, scientific and regulatory affairs, CRN.
The CRN Foundation, the educational non-profit affiliate for CRN, the dietary supplement industry’s leading trade association, commissioned the panel after results from a meta-analysis of RCTs, and reanalysis of the Women’s Health Initiative by researchers at a New Zealand laboratory, prompted concern about a potential association between calcium supplement use and a small increase in risk for adverse cardiovascular events. However, a number of issues with the meta-analysis and accompanying studies — such as exclusion of the majority of RCTs which indicate calcium has no effect on the cardiovascular system — warranted a complete examination of the scientific literature. The CRN Foundation assembled the expert panel to study the findings of this analysis in context with the larger body of scientific research on calcium.
“In light of our safety findings combined with the well-documented benefits of calcium, we urge physicians to continue recommending calcium supplements to their patients as appropriate, as our review of the scientific literature further reinforces the valuable role of calcium in helping consumers maintain bone health,” stated Kopecky. “Building and maintaining calcium is vital for all age groups—young children to adolescents to adults and the elderly must obtain adequate amounts of calcium, either through diet or supplementation. For those who are unsure if they need to supplement their diets with additional calcium, make sure to discuss your current nutritional picture with your physician.”
Supporting the expert panel’s conclusion is the recent “Framingham Study,” published online in the Nov. 7 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition by Elizabeth Samelson, which also looked at the association of calcium and coronary artery calcification and found that “ … calcium intake from diet and supplements appeared to neither increase nor decrease vascular calcification, which is a measure of cardiovascular risk."
The Institute of Medicine currently suggests women ages 19 through 50 and men up to 71 obtain a Recommended Dietary Allowance of 1,000 mg calcium daily; women over 50 and men 71 and older should obtain 1,200 mg daily. According to CRN’s most recent survey of U.S. adults, 17% indicate they take a calcium supplement.
Study: Asthmatics have a tougher time trying to quit smoking
CINCINNATI — A new University of Cincinnati study released last week examined how anxiety sensitivity can thwart the efforts of smokers with asthma to quit smoking. This new direction of research from Alison McLeish, a UC assistant professor of psychology, was presented Nov.17 at the 46th annual convention of the Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies in National Harbor, Md.
Anxiety sensitivity, or AS, refers to a person’s chronic fear of anxiety-related symptoms — the belief that experiences such as sweaty palms, shallow breathing, headache or rapid heartbeat could bring on something much worse, either physically, mentally or socially.
McLeish’s study of 125 smokers with asthma found that anxiety sensitivity was a significant factor in impeding the smokers’ efforts to quit smoking, even though the participants with higher anxiety sensitivity were more likely to report that they wanted to quit because of the health factors associated with asthma and smoking. Participants with high anxiety sensitivity were also more likely to report self-control as motivations for quitting.
“If people are smoking to cope with anxiety, which is often what smokers do, quitting smoking can temporarily increase their anxiety, which will give people high in anxiety sensitivity the exact symptoms they’re afraid of,” McLeish said. “Since anxiety is more common among individuals with asthma, this could explain why smokers with asthma have a harder time quitting smoking."
McLeish said the study suggests that smokers with asthma who have high anxiety sensitivity may need specialized intervention efforts to overcome their perceived barriers to quitting smoking — interventions targeted toward their health concerns and building their self confidence.
Participants in the study were 125 smokers with asthma, 46% female, with an average age of around 37. They reported being regular smokers for an average of 20.6 years and smoked about a pack of cigarettes per day. Of those who participated in the study, 54.5% were African-American, 41.5% were Caucasian, 1.6% were Asian and 2.4% reported “other.”
Study: Vitamin D3 could help prevent Type 1 diabetes
SAN DIEGO — A study published last week by researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine has found a correlation between vitamin D3 serum levels and subsequent incidence of Type 1 diabetes. The six-year study of blood levels of nearly 2,000 individuals suggests a preventative role for vitamin D3 in this disease. The research appears the December issue of Diabetologia, a publication of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.
“Previous studies proposed the existence of an association between vitamin D deficiency and risk of and Type 1 diabetes, but this is the first time that the theory has been tested in a way that provides the dose-response relationship,” stated Cedric Garland, professor in UCSD’s Department of Family and Preventive Medicine.
Based mainly on results of this study, Garland estimated that the level of calcidiol (the form of vitamin D that is measured in order to assess vitamin D deficiency) needed to prevent half the cases of type 1 diabetes is 50 ng/mL. A consensus of all available data indicates no known risk associated with this dosage.
“While there are a few conditions that influence vitamin D metabolism, for most people, 4,000 IU per day of vitamin D3 will be needed to achieve the effective levels,” Garland suggested. He advised interested patients to ask their healthcare provider to measure their serum calcidiol before increasing vitamin D3 intake.
“This beneficial effect is present at these intakes only for vitamin D3,” Garland said. “Reliance should not be placed on different forms of vitamin D and mega doses should be avoided, as most of the benefits for prevention of disease are for doses less than 10,000 IU/day.”