In an attempt to promote whole foods over costly supplements, I always encourage my clients to avoid taking a multivitamin or other supplements if they can balance their meals and eat a variety of foods from Canada’s Food Guide. Scientists have not been able to prove that taking vitamins and supplements in their pill form is as effective as getting these nutrients from the whole foods. In addition, you cannot overdose on vitamins and minerals from the amounts found in whole foods whereas you can see symptoms of toxicity if you take too many supplements.
This article discusses some of the effects of calcium supplements including an increased risk of heart attack in women who took calcium supplements. The theory behind this is that calcium supplements enter the blood stream in higher doses than dietary calcium and can deposit in arteries.
On the other hand, some studies have found that calcium supplementation reduced the risk of fractures and had no effect on risk of heart attack.
This seemingly contradictory information makes it hard to decide if calcium supplementation is right for you. Keep in mind that you can get enough calcium from your diet by eating foods rich in calcium such as dairy products (low fat milk and yogurt), fortified soy and other milk alternatives, and even spinach, canned fish with the bones in and Kale (the latter being lower sources of calcium compared to dairy).
If you do not eat a varied diet containing calcium rich foods or if you are on medications that may decrease calcium absorption, a calcium rich supplement may be appropriate for you, speak with your doctor or a Registered Dietitian for more information.