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Calcium Supplementation Improves Lipid Profile in Postmenopaus

Calcium citrate supplementation significantly increases HDL cholesterol levels in postmenopausal women. The study suggests that the indications for calcium supplementation need to be modified, New Zealand researchers report.

Dr. Ian R. Reid and colleagues, from the University of Auckland, randomly assigned 223 women, mean 72 years of age, to calcium 1 g/day or placebo for 1 year. These women had not received prior therapy for hyperlipidemia or osteoporosis.

The researchers measured levels of LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol at baseline and again at 2, 6, and 12 months, according to their report in the April 1st issue of The American Journal of Medicine.

According to the authors, at the end of the trial HDL cholesterol levels and HDL to LDL ratio had increased more among women taking calcium supplements compared with women taking placebo.

Dr. Reid’s team points out that these changes were primarily due to an increase in HDL cholesterol of 7% (p = 0.01) and a nonsignificant 6% decrease in LDL cholesterol (p = 0.09) among women taking the calcium supplement compared with women taking placebo.

Calcium supplementation did not have a significant effect on triglyceride concentrations (p = 0.48), the New Zealand researchers add.

"These data provide reason to encourage the more widespread use of calcium supplementation in postmenopausal women, to explore its effects on lipids in other populations such as men, and to undertake larger studies to assess the effects of calcium supplementation on the risk of cardiovascular events," Dr. Reid and colleagues conclude. Am J Med 2002;112:343-347.