Q) Should I take a calcium supplement? I am postmenopausal and healthy but worried about maintaining my bone health.
A) Recent research from New Zealand published in the British Medical Journal investigated all the best studies looking at the relationship between calcium and bone fracture. According to NHS Choices (nhs.uk), the results, counter to previous medical advice, showed that for most healthy people calcium supplements will make little difference to their bone health or risk of fracture. They may also cause side effects such as constipation, kidney stones and, more seriously, an increased chance of heart attack.
Expert advice in the UK is that we need about 700mg of calcium a day to feed our bones, which are constantly being destroyed and renewed. We should get this quite easily from our diet. Good sources are oily fish, nuts, seeds, beans (eg, soya) and pulses (eg, chickpeas), as well as milk, cheese and yoghurt. Read More…
Despite all the press about vitamin D3, most of us have chosen to ignore the findings and hope we have sufficient levels in the bloodstream. Most of us don’t. In fact, according to the Department of Health, as much as 25 percent of the population has a vitamin D deficiency – and scientists estimate that this figure is actually low and could be nearer 60 percent.
What is vitamin D?
Vitamin D is not strictly a vitamin. A vitamin is a compound that cannot be produced by the body and since vitamin D is produced in the skin, as a result of exposure to sunlight, it is more accurately described as a hormone. Although we are capable of producing vitamin D, we rarely make sufficient levels due to the latitude we live in and the fact that we constantly being told to wear sunscreens, which of course block sunlight.
Small amounts of vitamin D is found in fortified foods including milk, cereals, oily fish and juices, but this amount is too small to make any significant difference. In fact, it is estimated that we would need to drink 20 glasses of milk everyday to maintain optimal levels of vitamin D. Read More…