Insufficient Calcium May Link Hypertension Osteoporosis

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June 22, 2010

Insufficient calcium may link hypertension, osteoporosis

Insufficient calcium may link hypertension, osteoporosis

The Annual Congress of the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR 2010), held in Rome was the site of a presentation on June 17 of the findings of Professor Maria Manara and her colleagues at the Gaetano Pini Institute's Department of Rheumatology in Milan of an increased risk of high blood pressure and osteoporosis among women with a reduced intake of calcium.

The study included 825 postmenopausal women with hypertension referred to the Gaetano Pini Institute's Osteometabolic unit from 2002 to 2010 who were each age-matched with 3 healthy postmenopausal women. The hypertensive participants were not receiving diuretics, which are known to affect bone growth, or other drugs known to affect bone metabolism. Calcium intake from dairy products was quantified as the number of servings containing approximately 300 milligrams calcium consumed per week.

Women with hypertension were likelier to be overweight, consume less calcium, and have high blood pressure. Dr Manara and her associates found that 35.4 percent of women whose calcium intake was among the lowest one-fourth of participants at less than 8 servings per week had both high blood pressure and osteoporosis, compared to 19.3 percent of those whose calcium was among the highest fourth at greater than 15 servings. Women with low calcium intake upon recruitment also had a significantly increased risk of developing either condition over time, and a 60 percent greater risk of developing both conditions compared to those with a high intake.

Insufficient calcium intake is a known risk factor for osteoporosis, and the high calcium content of dairy products may be responsible for the association between increased consumption of these foods and lower blood pressure that has been observed in some studies. "The main pathogenetic hypothesis for the association between hypertension and osteoporosis points to increased parathyroid levels depending on the urinary calcium leakage reported in subjects with hypertension," the authors write.

"Our study confirms that there may be a link between hypertension and low bone mass and that a low calcium intake could be a risk factor for the development of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women" Dr Manara stated. "Our study has also shown that a low calcium intake from dairy foods may be involved in this association and could be considered a risk factor for the development of hypertension and osteoporosis."

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Calcium and vitamin D are the cornerstone of osteoporosis prevention, yet they are not the whole story. Other minerals and nutrients that are vital to a healthy bone matrix include magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B12, and others, including zinc, manganese, boron, copper, and silicon (Nieves JW 2005; Hirota T et al 2005).

Many studies have shown that calcium can reduce bone loss and suppress bone turnover. Calcium intake is a foundation of osteoporosis prevention (Kasper DL et al 2005). Calcium requires the presence of vitamin D for maximum absorption.

Although calcium is readily available in dairy products and other dietary sources, many Americans are calcium deficient. There are a few possible explanations for calcium deficiencies:

  • Decreased vitamin D availability, possibly due to kidney or liver problems or insufficient exposure to sunshine (ultraviolet radiation)
  • Decreased gastrointestinal tract absorption due to stomach or intestinal problems
  • Increased loss of calcium from the kidneys
  • Increased loss of calcium from the colon and bowels
  • Low dietary calcium intake
  • Medications that inhibit calcium absorption

There are many forms of calcium on the market, including the common calcium carbonate, calcium gluconate, and calcium citrate. Of these, calcium citrate is the most easily absorbed and a good way to receive supplemental calcium.

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