Purpose: To determine the effect of supplementation with calcium citrate on circulating lipid concentrations in normal older women.
Subjects and methods: As part of a study of the effects of calcium supplementation on fractures, we randomly assigned 223 postmenopausal women (mean [+/- SD] age, 72 +/- 4 years), who were not receiving therapy for hyperlipidemia or osteoporosis, to receive calcium (1 g/d, n = 111) or placebo (n = 112) for 1 year. Fasting serum lipid concentrations, including high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, were obtained at baseline, and at 2, 6, and 12 months.
Results: After 12 months, HDL cholesterol levels and the HDL cholesterol to LDL cholesterol ratio had increased more in the calcium group than in the placebo group (mean between-group differences in change from baseline: for HDL cholesterol, 0.09 mmol/L (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.02 to 0.17; P = 0.01); for HDL/LDL cholesterol ratio, 0.05 (95% CI: 0.02 to 0.08; P = 0.001). This was largely due to a 7% increase in HDL cholesterol levels in the calcium group, with a nonsignificant 6% decline in LDL cholesterol levels. There was no significant treatment effect on triglyceride level (P = 0.48).
Conclusion: Calcium citrate supplementation causes beneficial changes in circulating lipids in postmenopausal women. This suggests that a reappraisal of the indications for calcium supplementation is necessary, and that its cost effectiveness may have been underestimated.