Monday, August 2, 2010

The Heart Stopping, Bone Shattering Truth about Calcium Supplements...

All of our lives we've been coached to "drink our milk" and that calcium will make our bones strong driving many, especially women, to believe that weak bones and hip fractures are inevitable if copious amounts of milk are not consumed and/or a calcium supplement is not taken.   There are MANY calcium supplements on the market and I would guess that everyone reading this knows someone that currently takes one.  As is true with many supplements, we are led to believe that extra calcium, (in the form of supplements) will protect our bones and make us healthier. 

Unfortunately some new research has shown that taking a daily calcium supplement may increase
heart attack risk.  The study found that calcium supplementation resulted in a 30% greater risk of heart attack among healthy women.  Additionally, small increases in stroke and overall mortality were also observed.  The observations are exclusive to calcium supplement use; as high levels of dietary calcium had no deleterious effects.  Couple these findings with the relatively insignificant effect that calcium supplements have
on fracture prevention and it becomes fairly obvious that calcium supplementation is generally - not all that it's "cracked" up to be.

This isn't to say that calcium can or should be avoided - it's necessary not only to build and maintain teeth and bones, but it also plays a role in blood clotting, nerve function, muscle contraction, blood pressure and acid/base regulation.  The underlying message here is: If it's possible to get adequate amounts of a nutrient through diet alone don't rely on a supplement to do it for you. 

Cruddy Diet + Supplements = One Foot In The Grave
Lean Grass-Fed Meats + Wild Caught Fish + Vegetables + Good Fats + Some Fruit = Long Healthy Life.



  1. Awesome stuff as always, Amy---and interesting stats on myocardial infarction & CVA risk.

    I've had the conversation a few times about the near-pointlessness of Ca supplementation vs the importance of Vit D and Mg regarding bone density, but, like discussing increasing fat intake versus "healthy whole grains", it generally ends up with a deer-in-the-headlights stare. :)

  2. What's being missed by the conclusions of the study? That there were no increased risk when the supplement was 500 mg a day. Consider the data that the low dose studies showed the subjects had a dietary consumption of calcium of a bit over 600 mg a day. That gives 1,100 mg total a day -- just about the US RDA for those supplementing 500 mg a day when added to normal food intake.

    The take-away should be don't take over 500 mg calcium supplement a day ... not that it is necessary to avoid calcium supplementation altogether.

    Look at the charts in the article and compare the dosages of the studies included in the review and then look which studies showed increase risk.

  3. Chances are the calcium supplement you are taking now is a rock source of calcium. The label will say "calcium carbonate", which is nothing more than limestone. AlgaeCal Plus contains an organic, plant-sourced calcium form derived from a unique South American marine algae called Algas Calcareas™.