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Q: I have been taking calcium plus vitamin D tablets three times a day. I have recently heard on the news that this could cause hardening of the arteries. What should a person take to strengthen the bones? I also take Actonel once a week.

Dr. Gott

A: Many people have written to me asking the same question. Calcium (or calcium plus D) supplements do not cause hardening of the arteries. The way the media portrayed the issue caused near panic for thousands of people taking these supplements.

The information reported was that arterial plaque caused by excess calcium could lead to heart attack and stroke. While this is true, the problem does not lie in how much calcium is ingested but rather with the body itself. As we age, our bodies become less able to absorb calcium properly. Most of it is excreted, but a small amount can be carried to other areas of the body, such as the arteries, where it is deposited. Over time, this can lead to large patches of hardened arterial lining, which can become cracked or break off, leading to clot formation. If the clot breaks off, it can be carried to the heart, brain or lungs, leading to an emergency situation.

Calcium is necessary for many bodily functions, such as bone health, heart action, normal blood clotting, muscle contraction and nervous-system maintenance.

If you are truly concerned, speak with your primary-care physician or gynecologist. Since they know you best, they can give you the best explanation specific to you.

To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my health report, “Osteoporosis.” Other readers who would like a copy should send a self-addressed, stamped No. 10 envelope and $2 to Newsletter, PO Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title.

Q: Thank you for all of the help you have given me and my family through your medical column.

I have enclosed a clipping that I found in a magazine. It is a cheap, easy and effective home remedy for insect bites. My husband was recently stung by a wasp, and we tried it with great success.

Simply rub the juicy (freshly cut) side of an onion onto the area, and the itch is gone!

A: Thank you for this helpful hint. I note that the tip was from Andrea Candee’s book, Gentle Healing for Baby and Child. She says that it must be a yellow onion and that it works become the onion contains over 100 sulfur compounds, which have anti-inflammatory effects. You don’t say what magazine this came from, however.

I will be sure to try this myself the next time I am bitten or stung by an insect. I hope my readers find this useful and effective. Thanks for writing to share.

To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my health report, “Dr. Gott’s Compelling Home Remedies.” Other readers who would like a copy should send a self-addressed, stamped No. 10 envelope and $2 to Newsletter, PO Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title.

Dr. Peter H. Gott is a retired physician and the author of the book, Dr. Gott’s No Flour, No Sugar Diet, available at most chain and independent bookstores, and the recently published, Dr. Gott’s No Flour, No Sugar Cookbook.

If readers would like to contact Dr. Gott, they may write him through your newspaper or send their mail directly to Dr. Gott c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave., fourth floor, New York, NY 10016. However, if readers want to request a newsletter, they should write to the Ohio address.