When calcium boosts your heart attack risk

June 05, 2012
Volume 09    |   Issue 23

You’ve probably seen the news. Researchers from New Zealand found that taking calcium supplements can significantly increase your risk of having a heart attack.

I’ve been telling this to my patients and readers for decades. For some reason, doctors still scare many into taking 1500 mg of calcium a day. But these researchers confirmed what I’ve said — taking more isn’t better.

In fact, those who take calcium supplements at these levels were 86% more likely to have a heart attack compared to those who don’t. What’s more, if you rely on supplements for your daily calcium intake, you’re 139% more likely to have a heart attack.

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. High intakes of calcium is not only unnecessary, it’s downright dangerous.

To reach this conclusion, the researchers collected data on nearly 24,000 participants between the ages of 35 and 64. To begin, each participant filled out a questionnaire to assess their diet over the last year. This questionnaire included questions about vitamin and mineral supplements.

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Then the researchers followed their health for an average of 11 years. This group experience 354 heart attacks and 260 strokes during the follow-up period. Of these 267 died.

But there’s something the latest news didn’t tell you about calcium. And it’s something I’ve told you for years.

When the researchers analyzed the data, they found that those participants who took a moderate amount of calcium (820 mg/day) from all sources had the lowest risk of heart attack. They were 31% less likely to have an attack than those who took much less. What’s more, those who took much more (over 1,100 mg/day) had the same level of protection as those in the lowest intake group.

In other words, those who took a moderate amount of calcium were significantly less likely to have a heart attack than those with low or high intake. That’s why I recommend taking no more than 500 mg of supplemental calcium — the amount found in Healthy Resolve multivitamin/mineral formula. Along with a healthful diet containing calcium in a serving of dairy and one or two portions of leafy greens, you’ll get all the benefits without the risk.

When you look at all the data that’s come out in the last 30+ years, it’s obvious that more calcium is not better. Calcium is vital for good health, but you don’t want to overdo it.

Your voice of reason in Women's Health,


"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.

BMJ-British Medical Journal press release; British Heart Foundation.; Council for Responsible Nutrition

Catharine Paddock PhD. "Calcium Supplements May Increase Heart Attack Risk." Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 24 May. 2012. Web. 25 May. 2012. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/245811.php>.

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