Evidence has been discovered linking inadequate intake of calcium with hypertension in adults (symposia headed by Dr. D. A. McCarron in Hypertension, 1982, and Annals of Internal Medicine, 1983). The causal relationship here is unclear.
Other studies have shown that adults commonly have less than optimal amounts of calcium in their diets, since intake of dairy foods and leafy vegetables tends to fall as we grow older. Beer replaces milk and cookies in the evening and our mothers aren't around anymore to make sure we eat all our vegetables! And Dr. J. M. Belizan and colleagues of Johns Hopkins have found that calcium supplements have a mild blood-pressure–lowering effect in adults (JAMA 1983). A more recent review of all the relevant studies was not so convincing. (CMAJ 1999, May 4) Calcium also is useful as a supplement, particularly in post–menopausal women, to prevent osteoporosis. Make sure you get enough sunlight so that your skin makes plenty of Vitamin D to help the intestines absorb all that calcium. And you must be a regular exerciser so that your bones take it up or else it just ends up wasted in the urine.
Author: Cleaves M. Bennett MD FACP
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