Calcium supplements can boost longevity

By Tom Nordlie • Published: July 2nd, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Everyone knows calcium builds strong bones.

Now it seems the mineral also builds longevity.

A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology showed that older men who got plenty of calcium in their diets lived longer than those who didn’t.

The study involved more than twenty-three-thousand Swedish men, ages forty-five to seventy-nine.

Researchers had them answer questions about their diet and health status. Men who took nutritional supplements were excluded from the study.

The data were used to calculate an estimated daily calcium intake.

The volunteers were tracked an average of ten years.

Analysis revealed that the men who consumed the least amount of calcium were twenty-five percent more likely to die than the ones who consumed the most.

The scientists weren’t sure why high calcium intake helped. But some possibilities included its positive influence on blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose.

When researchers parsed the data, they found that calcium intake didn’t have a significant effect on deaths from cancer or cardiovascular disease.

The researchers also compared magnesium intake and mortality, but didn’t find any correlation.

However, the volunteers generally had high magnesium intake.

Calcium and magnesium are believed to compete for uptake in the body. So perhaps the results would be different in men who consumed less magnesium.

The take-home message seems clear enough, though.

Older men should eat plenty of calcium-rich foods, including milk, cheese, yogurt and certain nuts and legumes.

Getting lots of magnesium, from spinach, legumes and dairy products, couldn’t hurt, either.

The result could be a longer life.

And strong bones are a bonus.