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Calcium and Lead: should you worry?

January 04, 2001

For years, women have been urged to take calcium supplements to prevent osteoporosis. Now a new study uncovers detectable levels of lead in some of the leading supplements. What's a woman to do? According to the January issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource, most of these levels are not high enough to cause significant harm, so women should keep taking their supplements.

The study, published in the Sept. 20 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at 21 widely available calcium supplements, including seven natural, oyster shell products. Of those seven, four (Spring Valley, Nature Made, Os-Cal and Eckerd) had up to two micrograms of lead in each dose. That's well below the absolute maximum daily intake of lead, which is six micrograms.

Of the 14 refined calcium supplements listed, four of the remaining 14 brands (Caltrate, Eckerd, Advanced Nutritional Technology and R and D Laboratories) had up to three micrograms of lead per 1,500 milligram dose of calcium, still lower than the six microgram max.

Although no lead intake is definitely the safest, Mayo Clinic doctors believe that these levels are not as harmful as the potential results of a calcium deficiency. Women should keep taking their daily dose of calcium to protect their present and future health.
-end-
Shelly Plutowski
507-284-5005 (days)
507-284-2511 (evenings)
e-mail: newsbureau@mayo.edu

Mayo Clinic

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