Supplementation with calcium can help boost levels of HDL, or 'good', cholesterol. This is the conclusion of a recent study by researchers at the University of Auckland in New Zealand.
Writing in the American Journal of Medicine, lead author Dr Ian Reid said that his team had given 223 women either one gram of calcium per day or a placebo over the period of one year. None of the women were being treated for high cholesterol or osteoporosis.
Reid's team tested the women for LDL ('bad') cholesterol and HDL cholesterol at the start of the supplementation period, followed by further tests after two, six and 12 months.
They discovered that after the 12-month period, the women taking the calcium citrate supplements had higher HDL levels - up 7 per cent on average - and a better HDL to LDL ratio than those taking the placebo. Calcium supplementation had no effect on levels of triglycerides, however.
Reid and his team said that their findings gave women, and especially post-menopausal women, another good reason to add more calcium to their diets. They added that the effects of calcium on cholesterol levels should also be tested on men, as well as further testing to ascertain whether calcium supplementation had any effect on the risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attack.