Hypertension is a major public health problem that increases the risk of cardiovascular and kidney diseases. Several studies have shown an inverse association between calcium intake and blood pressure. As small reductions in blood pressure have been shown to produce rapid reductions in vascular disease risk even in individuals with normal blood pressure ranges, this review intends to evaluate the effect of calcium supplementation in normotensive individuals as a preventive health measure.
To assess the efficacy and safety of calcium supplementation versus placebo or control for reducing blood pressure in normotensive people.
We searched the Cochrane Hypertension Group Specialised Register, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process, EMBASE and ClinicalTrials.gov for randomised controlled trials up to October 2014. The WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP) is searched for inclusion in the Group's Specialised Register. We also reviewed reference lists from retrieved studies and contacted authors of relevant papers. We applied no language restrictions.
We selected trials that randomised normotensive people to dietary calcium interventions such as supplementation or food fortification versus placebo or control. We excluded quasi-random designs. The primary outcomes were hypertension (defined as blood pressure ≥ 140/90 mmHg) and blood pressure measures.
Two review authors independently selected trials for inclusion, abstracted the data and assessed the risks of bias.
We included 16 trials with 3048 participants. None of the studies reported hypertension as a dichotomous outcome. The effect on systolic and diastolic blood pressure was mean difference (MD) -1.43 mmHg (95% confidence interval (CI) -2.15 to -0.72) and -0.98 mmHg (95%CI -1.46 to -0.50) respectively. The effect on systolic and diastolic blood pressure for those younger than 35 years (7 trials with 399 participants) was -2.11 mmHg (95%CI -3.58 to -0.64) / -2.61 mmHg (95% CI -3.74, -1.49). The effect on systolic and diastolic blood pressure for those 35 years or more (9 trials with 2649 participants) was -0.96 mmHg (95%CI -1.83 to -0.09) / -0.59 mmHg (95%CI -1.13 to -0.06). The effect on systolic and diastolic blood pressure for women (6 trials with 1823 participants) was -1.45 mmHg (95% CI -2.78 to -0.12) / -0.92 mmHg (95% CI -1.71 to -0.14). The effect on systolic and diastolic blood pressure for men (5 trials with 617 participants) was -2.07 (95%CI -3.56 to -0.59] / -1.91 (95%CI -2.80 to -1.02).The quality of evidence for each of these outcomes was high. The effect is consistent in both genders regardless of baseline calcium intake.The effect on systolic blood pressure was 0.08 mmHg (95% CI -2.16 to 2.32) with doses less than 1000 mg, -1.14 mmHg (95% CI -2.01 to -0.27) with 1000 - 1500 mg, and -2.79 mmHg (95% CI -4.71 to -0.86) with more than 1500 mg. The effect on diastolic blood pressure was -0.54 mmHg (95% CI -2.23 to 1.15), -0.71 mmHg (95% CI -1.37 to -0.06) and -1.43 mmHg (95% CI -2.22 to -0.64) respectively. The quality of evidence for each of these outcomes was high.None of the studies reported adverse events.
An increase in calcium intake slightly reduces both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in normotensive people, particularly in young people, suggesting a role in the prevention of hypertension. These results should be interpreted with caution, since the proposed biological mechanism explaining the relationship between calcium and blood pressure has not been fully confirmed. The effect across multiple prespecified subgroups and a possible dose response effect reinforce this conclusion. Even small reductions in blood pressure could have important health implications for reducing vascular disease.There is a great need for adequately-powered clinical trials randomising young people. Subgroup analysis should involve basal calcium intake, age, sex, basal blood pressure, and body mass index. We also require assessment of side effects, optimal doses and the best strategy to improve calcium intake.