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Ask Marilyn: Are Calcium Supplements Necessary?

Melvin Freedenberg of Ridgewood, New Jersey, writes:

Marilyn: If it is so simple to take a calcium supplement to strengthen bones, why are there so many prescription medications available for increasing bone density?

Marilyn responds:

It's not so simple. Study results vary widely. Some suggest that when adults take calcium supplements, it may help reduce fractures; others indicate that supplements do nothing at all; still other studies offer evidence that the supplements cause harm, such as increasing the risk of heart attacks. Who knows? The subject is as contestable as whether taking vitamin and mineral supplements make sense. Plus, calcium supplements vary widely, too, and they all have different actions.

Hence those prescription medications—which, by the way, are also a major source of contention.



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