One of the biggest concerns women have as they go through menopause and beyond is the health of their bones. And rightly so. They're the foundation of your body — and your health. So when women ask me about their bone health, I always ask them what supplements they're taking.
As you can imagine, the first thing they always say is, "Oh, I take plenty of calcium." When I ask how much, it's usually in the 1,200-1,500 mg range. So I keep probing and ask why they're taking so much. The answer, as you may know, is that their doctor told them to take that much.
Unfortunately, their doctors are setting these women up for a heart attack.
We've known about this connection for decades. And it was confirmed back in 2012, when researchers from New Zealand said that taking calcium supplements significantly increases your risk of having a heart attack. In fact, those who take 1,500 mg of calcium pills were 86% more likely to have a heart attack compared to those who don't. What's more, they said that relying on supplements for your daily calcium intake increases your risk by 139%.
And now a new study — a study that looks at more than a decade's worth of information — further confirms these findings.
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The review looked at medical tests on more than 2,700 people. They ranged in age from 45 to 84. Of these, 51% were female. The study looked at all the dairy-containing foods the participants ate. And they looked at what drugs and supplements they took every day. Then they used cardiac CT scans to measure the participants' coronary artery calcium scores. This is a measure of calcification in the arteries. When the score is above zero, it's an accurate marker of heart disease risk. They repeated this scan 10 years later.
The results confirmed that taking calcium in the form of supplements raises the risk of plaque buildup in arteries. And it can cause significant damage to the heart. However, a diet high in calcium-rich foods does not have the same effect. In fact, it appears to be protective.
The problem is that when you take a lot of calcium, your body can't absorb all of it. Some of it finds its way into tissues and becomes arthritis. And some collects in arteries and becomes atherosclerosis. When you get most of your calcium from food, this doesn't happen. So the studies don't condemn calcium. You still need ample amounts of it. You just don't need to take it all at one time with supplements. You need to get the bulk of it from food.
That doesn't mean you shouldn't take calcium in supplement form. It just means you shouldn't take more than 500 mg daily. This is the amount found in the Advanced Bionutritionals' Healthy Resolve
multivitamin/mineral formula. If you're taking this, you're getting plenty of calcium. But if still want to do more to protect your bones, then consider taking Ultimate Bone Support
, which doesn't contain calcium. It contains other nutrients that build your bones and keep them strong without causing calcified arteries and joints.
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening, ND
"Associations of dietary calcium intake and calcium supplementation with myocardial infarction and stroke risk and overall cardiovascular mortality in the Heidelberg cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study (EPIC-Heidelberg)"; Kuanrong Li, Rudolf Kaaks, Jakob Linseisen, Sabine Rohrmann; Heart 2012; Published Online First: 23 May 2012 DOI:10.1136/heartjnl-2011-301345; Link to Abstract.
John J.B. Anderson, Bridget Kruszka, Joseph A.C. Delaney, Ka He, Gregory L. Burke, Alvaro Alonso, Diane E. Bild, Matthew Budoff, Erin D. Michos. Calcium Intake From Diet and Supplements and the Risk of Coronary Artery Calcification and its Progression Among Older Adults: 10 Year Follow up of the Multi Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Journal of the American Heart Association
, 2016; 5 (10): e003815 DOI: 10.1161/JAHA.116.003815