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Health Discovery

Are You Taking Too Much Calcium?

Supplements may raise heart attack risk, but calcium from food doesn't

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Reid says the case for preventing osteoporosis with calcium supplements is overblown — it only decreases fracture risk by about 10 percent. He counsels his own patients to boost their calcium intake from dietary sources. "There are a number of food sources that are acceptable to the majority of people," he says. In addition to dairy products, foods like broccoli, spinach, nuts and tofu are rich in calcium.

"A decade ago the enthusiasts were saying people should have 1,500 milligrams of calcium a day," Reid says. A "more sensible target" is probably 600 to 800 milligrams per day, he says. "The majority of elderly people can probably achieve that."

Michael Haederle is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in People, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

Also of interest: When supplements become dangerous.

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Lark McCarthy takes a closer look at the dangers of taking too many prescription drugs. Adverse reactions and misuse of prescription drugs have now become a major concern for older patients.

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