A Duke University study published in the British Journal of Nutrition this summer found that calcium supplements taken by elderly persons may increase the risk of brain lesions that are identified as hyperintensities on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans.
The researchers studied 227 adults over the age of 60. The patients were assessed for supplemental calcium intake and received brain scans via MRI.
Those taking calcium supplements had more lesions of a volume typically associated with hypertension. They noted no dose-dependent relationship between lesion size and the amount of calcium being supplemented. The scientists commented that other studies associated calcium supplementation with greater risk of artery disease.
Hyperintensities are observed in normal aging, plus several neurological, psychiatric and autoimmune disorders that affect the brain. They constitute damage to brain tissue caused by restricted blood flow and have been linked to mild cognitive deficits and disturbances.