Women who take up to 1000 mg of calcium every day live longer than women who don't supplement, say researchers at the McGill University in Montreal, Canada.
They analysed the lifestyles and health choices of 9,033 Canadians over a 12-year period, during which time 1,160 died, but the death rate was far lower in women who took calcium supplements.
The benefits seemed to be there for all women who consumed calcium, whether by supplementing or eating calcium-rich foods, such as dairy produce. It didn't seem to matter if the supplements were enriched with vitamin D or not.
Although it's known that calcium improves the health of bones-which is especially important for women after the menopause-many have been put off from taking supplements because of earlier studies that suggested they may also increase the risk of heart disease. But, say the researchers, the evidence isn't there; instead, they found the very reverse.
Sadly, the benefit was seen only in women; men who get plenty of calcium don't seem to live longer.
(Source: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, to be published in the July, 2013 edition).