Does Calcium Work?

Possible Uses

For several calcium uses, preliminary evidence suggests that calcium might work for some uses. These possible uses need to be studied more, in order to confirm the effectiveness. Such uses include:
 
  • Preventing colorectal cancer
  • Decreasing high fluoride (fluorosis) symptoms in children exposed to too much fluoride
  • Decreasing LDL cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol)
  • Increasing HDL cholesterol ("good" cholesterol)
  • Decreasing blood pressure
  • Preventing strokes in some women
  • Reducing the risk of pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH) and preeclampsia
  • Helping elderly people keep their teeth
  • Promoting weight loss.
     
For some of these possible uses (such as weight loss), studies have shown that dietary intake of calcium through foods (usually dairy) may be beneficial. This does not necessarily mean that taking calcium supplements will be equally beneficial. It might be an unrelated factor (such as some other compound in the dairy) that is contributing to the effect.
 

Other Uses for Calcium

For other calcium uses, there is simply not enough evidence to say either way if calcium really works (or does not work). Much more research is needed before calcium can be recommended for such uses.
 

Final Thoughts on the Effectiveness of Calcium

Calcium is very effective for a few clearly established uses and may possibly be effective for a number of other uses. Many claimed benefits of calcium have insufficient evidence to suggest any real benefit. However, because it has a low risk of toxicity for most people (when used at appropriate dosages), it might be worth a try. After all, many people do not get enough calcium through their diet.
 
If you are interested in taking calcium for an unproven use, it might be a good idea to consult with your healthcare provider. Not only can your healthcare provider help you decide if calcium is an appropriate option, but he or she can also help you monitor your progress, if you do decide to try calcium.
 
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