Elderly people are often recommended to take calcium supplements to keep their bones strong and healthy.
Calcium deficiency is the leading cause of age-related bone damage and other problems such as osteoporosis and arthritis.
But older women who have a history of stroke or changes in brain are at increased risk of developing dementia if they take calcium supplements, says the study. It was conducted by the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.
Dementia refers to the set of symptoms occurring due to cognitive decline and memory loss. It mostly starts between the age of 30-65 years and is more common in women. A series of stroke can also lead to the development of dementia.
Researchers compared 700 women in the age group of 70-92 years without dementia. They conducted psychiatry and cognitive tests of all the participants at the start and after five years of the study.
- Dementia risk was twice higher for women who took calcium supplements than who did not.
- It was seven times higher for women who had a history of stroke and took supplements.
- It was three times greater for women who had white matter changes in their brain and took supplements
- There was no dementia risk for women who had a history of stroke and white matter changes in the brain if they did not take the supplements.
So the study found that women with history of stroke and white matter changes in the brain were more likely to develop dementia if they took calcium supplements.
But are calcium supplements important?
Yes. Women are required to take calcium supplements to keep their bones stronger especially after menopause. Osteoporosis affects elderly women and can make their bones brittle.
The daily requirement of calcium for elderly women is 1200 mg/ day. So, to meet their daily allowance and lower the chances of developing osteoporosis, they need to take calcium supplements. Though calcium can be obtained from diet, it cannot meet the daily need. Therefore, achieving a balance between calcium from diet and through supplements can help maintain healthy bones.
However, the study does not directly link dementia to calcium supplements as the authors necessitate the need for further research to analyze effects of these supplements.