Friday, December 07, 2007

'tween a rock and a hard place

Calcium level may signal risk of mental decline
Those with higher amounts have more cognitive problems, study says

updated 1:49 p.m. ET, Tues., Dec. 4, 2007
NEW YORK - In elderly people, higher levels of calcium in the blood are associated with poorer mental function and faster decline in cognitive ability, Dutch researchers have shown.

Some diseases that increase blood calcium — such as kidney failure, cancer and excessive parathyroid gland activity — could be a factor in the relationship, although it’s also possible that an individual’s calcium “set point” plays a role in cognitive decline with age, note Dr. Miranda D. Schram and colleagues in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Several studies have shown that small but long-term elevations of calcium within nerves and brain cells can kill them, Schram of Leiden University Medical Center and her team point out. Calcium can pass from the blood stream into the brain, they add, but it has not been clear whether blood calcium levels have any relationship to cognitive function.

I take extra calcium/magnesium/D3 because I am a small Caucasian female of a certain age, at risk for osteoporosis. My mother broke her hip and had to have it replaced. Fortunately for my risk factors, I'm not a smoker, which is associated with a higer risk of osteoporosis. Since extra calcium increases the need for magnesium and zinc, both of which I take, perhaps that will lessen the chance of a bad effect on cognitive ability. I sure hope so!

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