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December 27, 2000

Lead in Calcium Supplements

Author Affiliations

Stephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Executive Deputy EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 2000;284(24):3126. doi:10.1001/jama.284.24.3123

To the Editor: We are gratified that, in his Editorial1 accompanying our article,2 Dr Heaney agreed that the labeling of calcium supplements with their lead levels would be a sound plan. We also share his hope that calcium intake may attenuate lead absorption; however, this optimism has not yet been supported by the literature. In the study he cites,3 as well as in the more recent comprehensive findings from the same group,4 the protective effect of calcium was limited to 14-day-old chickens that were calcium deficient. Those authors suggested that the lead-calcium axis was highly complex and varied with the duration of intake. Furthermore, the data suggested that some lead absorption may be uncoupled from calcium transport. Unfortunately, the data that we cited5 failed to confirm the alleged protective effect of dietary calcium in children.

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