Dear Living Well Daily Reader,
“Eat dairy and leafy greens… and always take a calcium supplement for healthy bones.”
If you’ve ever gone to a doctor’s appointment, then you’ve probably heard this advice.
But it’s not just your doctor… the big push for calcium as the ultimate bone protectant is everywhere… food labels, nutritional guidelines and lucrative supplements.
It seems all of this urging has worked — the National Institutes of Health estimates that close to half of Americans are taking calcium supplements.
Here’s the problem, though: Calcium supplements aren’t just affecting your bones. They can also have major impacts on your heart.
And thanks to some recent research — there’s proof calcium supplements could be wrecking your heart health.
Calcium Puts Your Heart in Crisis
A newly published study in the Journal of the American Heart Association analyzed 10 years of medical tests on 2,700 plus people who were enrolled in a federally funded heart disease research program.
The participants ages varied from 45–85 years of age and answered questions about their eating habits and supplement usage.
Next, they underwent CT scans that measured the buildup of calcium plaque in their arteries (also called arterial stiffness), a known risk factor for heart issues.
After analyzing the data, the researchers separated calcium intake by source — food or supplement.
Once all the numbers were crunched, the scientists made an astonishing discovery…
Folks who took calcium supplements were at a significantly greater risk of calcium plaque buildup in their arteries and risk for heart disease when compared to those who got calcium from foods.
This means taking a calcium supplement could wreck your heart.
Dr. Erin Michos, lead researcher of the study, explains, “When it comes to using vitamin and mineral supplements, particularly calcium supplements being taken for bone health, many Americans think that more is always better. But our study adds to the body of evidence that excess calcium in the form of supplements may harm the heart and vascular system”
On the contrary, researchers found that eating calcium-rich foods may actually help protect your heart, though the reason for this still remains unclear.
Michos goes on to say, “There doesn’t seem to be any harm in eating a heart-healthy diet that includes calcium-rich foods, and it may even be beneficial for the heart. But patients should really discuss any plan to take calcium supplements with their doctor to sort out a proper dosage or whether they even need them.”
Put another way, don’t just do what the doctor tells you. Let them know you’re informed about the dangers of excess calcium and then continue the conversation about if a calcium supplement is right for you.
And be sure to eat lots of foods rich in calcium, like dairy, leafy greens, broccoli, beans and certain fruits (like oranges).
So ditch the drugs and pick up some kale, cheese and beans while you’re out shopping this weekend — for your heart’s sake.
In addition, vitamins D3 and K2 are great ways to keep calcium out of your heart. Vitamin D3 helps your body absorb calcium. Then vitamin K2 helps direct absorbed calcium into your bones and away from your arteries. So be sure put these two powerful vitamins on your shopping list too.
Managing editor, Living Well Daily