For Men Only: Watch the Calcium

For Men Only: Watch the Calcium

Medically reviewed in February 2021

Considering a man's prostate is only about the size of a walnut, you wouldn't think it could cause so much trouble. But after skin -- your largest organ -- prostate cancer is the most common malignancy and the number two cancer killer among men. What makes good prostate cells go bad? Trying to discover that keeps scientists busy, but hormones and diet are suspects.

The latest culprit to be fingered is calcium. That mighty mineral keeps bones strong and blood pressure down, but now there's evidence that overdoing it (like overdoing all good things) could bump up prostate cancer risk as much as 25%. So what's a guy to do? Strike a healthy calcium balance: Be sure you get enough to fight fractures and high blood pressure, but not so much that you attract cancer. Here's how:

  • Aim for 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams (mg) of calcium a day. You can get that easily by drinking a glass of skim milk (300 mg), taking a 400 mg calcium supplement, and getting about 300 mg in other foods (calcium-fortified cereal, low-fat cheese/yogurt, canned salmon, spinach, white beans). Learn more about which foods are rich in calcium.
  • Make sure your calcium pill contains vitamin D3. Getting plenty of D3 (the vitamin's most absorbable form) may offset any calcium effects on your prostate by upping a cancer-inhibiting form of D called calcitriol. Here's how to close any vitamin D gap you may have.

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