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Calcium Can Help Us Live Longer


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By Margarita Nahapetyan

Eating a diet rich in calcium could help us live longer, a new research by Swedish scientists suggests.

Researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm came to the conclusion that men who consumed a lot of calcium in their diets were 25 per cent less likely to die over the next 10 years, when compared to their counterparts who had a minimal intake of this mineral in their food. None of the men were taking calcium supplements.

While many experts have been studying the relationship between calcium and magnesium intake and the risk of chronic disease, there is not much known about the link between the intake of these minerals in food and mortality. To find out, Dr. Joanna Kaluza of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm and her fellow colleagues evaluated more than 23,000 Swedish men who had reported on their diet at the beginning of the study when they were between 45 and 79 years old. The researchers followed them for the period of 10 years during which time about 2,358 participants died.

It was revealed that those men who had the most calcium intake in their food had a 25 per cent less risk of dying from any cause and the risk of heart-related mortality was also reduced by 23 per cent among these men. Men in the top third based on their calcium consumption, were getting about 2,000 mg of the mineral a day, on average, compared to nearly 1,000 mg for individuals in the bottom third. For the study participants, the main sources of calcium in the diet were milk and milk products, as well as cereal products. However, researchers noted that sticking to such a diet does not have any effect on the risk of dying from cancer.

Scientists believe that a diet rich in calcium can lower the risk of mortality by reducing blood pressure, levels of cholesterol and blood sugar. Thus, they urge that every person gets enough calcium in their daily routine. The American Heart Association recommends that most adults between 19 and 50 years old take 1,000 mg of calcium every day, and the US Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for calcium intake for individuals 50 years and older is 1,200 mg a day. The best sources of calcium in food are legumes, nonfat milk, yogurt, cheese, kale and broccoli.

In contrast to calcium, the study found no relationship between magnesium intake and overall mortality or deaths from cancer or heart-related problems. The intakes of magnesium in study participants ranged from about 400 mg a day to about 525 mg per day; the RDA for magnesium is 420 mg for male individuals 31 years and over. The experts say that their research may have found no effect for magnesium because all of the study subjects seemed to be taking enough of the mineral in their food. More research is needed involving other populations with lower dietary magnesium intakes in order to to address this issue, they said and added that future studies should also look into calcium and magnesium intake from drinking water, which can be a significant source of these minerals.

The findings were reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

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