Many people, especially women, take Calcium and Vitamin D supplements to improve their health. However, there are concerns it's doing more harm than good.
A leading government panel is considering telling postmenopausal women not to take low-dose calcium and vitamin D supplements. It comes after a recent study showed a link between the supplements and heart attacks.
Linsey Johnson doesn't spend a lot of time outside. But the Parker woman was still surprised when the doctor told her she wasn't getting enough vitamin D, a nutrient generated by sunlight.
"I had problems like fatigue and muscle pain and everything and she said we haven't checked a Vitamin D level. And so she checked that," Johnson said
Johnson is not alone. Millions of Americans take supplements to get the recommended amount of calcium and Vitamin D, especially in South Dakota.
"Being in the higher latitudes, a lot of my patients are either covered in sunscreen, which is good, but aren't able to synthesize Vitamin D on their own that way. It's cold outside so they're not outside," Sanford Dr. Elizabeth Jensen said.
Jensen recommends patients try to get the nutrients naturally, through the sun or foods such as dairy products.
"For those who are lactose intolerant or those who just don't like dairy products, I do still recommend taking calcium in the form of supplements," Jensen said.
Jensen also recommends premenopausal women get 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day and postmenopausal women should get about 1,500 milligrams.
"Both of them require the other one to form good, healthy bones and in the developing child, calcium and vitamin D are critical because otherwise you have problems like rickets," Jensen said.
In fact, just a few days after the study came out showing vitamin D and calcium supplements could cause heart problems, another study showed the supplements could cause you to live longer. That's why Johnson isn't too concerned, especially because since taking more vitamin D she has more energy.
"I actually would say I feel like a new person," Johnson said.
Foods such as egg yolks, salmon and tuna also contain vitamin D. Milk products, certain varieties of nuts such as almonds, and green leafy vegetables are natural sources of calcium.