Calcium-supplements: you can’t have too much

Before the rise of various food supplements, I remember that the first one to become popular were calcium-rich supplements like over-the-counter calcium and Vitamin D tablets and milk products.

Manufacturers were aggressively targeting old women with a media blitz, striking the fear of osteoporosis making them look like a hunch-back if they don’t buy their products, I mean take calcium supplements everyday.

Many celebrity endorsers led this campaign, even making fun of vertically-challenged women with the infamous by-line: “Ayaw kong lumiit no!I don’t want to get short. As a result, there’s a plethora of calcium supplements available in every drug and grocery store.

It’s understandable though, knowing that as we grow older, our intake of milk, which is our primary source of calcium before these supplements came, becomes less and less. Part of the blame is on the thinking that milk is only for children.

And this is precisely the reason why calcium supplements have become so popular today. With just a table a day, to which adults are more accustomed to, you get your daily fix of calcium. And for those who were conditioned to think that they could not be getting enough, there’s no harm in taking a glass or two of calcium-rich milk before going to bed.

Well think again, as health experts in the US are cautioning consumers on taking too much calcium all because of the rise of calcium supplements. They call it the calcium/milk-alkali syndrome:

The milk-alkali syndrome arose in the early 1900s when patients ingested abundant amounts of milk and antacids to control their ulcers. This practice increased individuals’ risk of developing dangerously high levels of calcium in the blood, which could cause high blood pressure and even kidney failure. The incidence of the milk-alkali syndrome declined when newer ulcer medications became available, but it appears to be on the rise again thanks to increased use of over-the-counter calcium and vitamin D supplements used mainly as preventive and treatment measures for osteoporosis. In many cases, patients with the syndrome require hospitalization.

Again this highlights the importance of consulting a health professional with regards to taking food supplements, even if these are over-the-counter products. Being active in taking care of your health is a good thing, but part is being smart about it.

It’s not enough to simply take food supplements, it’s better if you would still see a doctor on a regular basis to check and monitor your progress. And simply don’t take another’s word on a product they’re using. Remember that doctors still know what’s best for you.

Perhaps there’s some wisdom on the Dept of Health’s latest call on endorsers to try or use the products themselves before endorsing it. Ah but that’s for another post for another time.

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