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July 26, 2012 • Healthy Living, Heart Health

Calcium Supplements Linked to Heart Risks

The alarms linking calcium supplements with a greater risk of cardiovascular events just got significantly louder. Several recent studies have raised concerns that calcium supplements may elevate cardiovascular risk, and a large new study published in the journal Heart adds to this fear. For this evaluation investigators followed almost 24,000 middle age adults for an average of 11 years. Study subjects who reported regular use of calcium supplements were 86% more likely to have heart attacks vs those who didn’t take them. Interestingly, study subjects who consumed moderate levels of calcium solely from foods (820 mg a day) had a lower risk of heart attacks than those getting lower levels of calcium from their foods (Heart online May 23, 2012).

These findings echo those in previous studies that found heightened cardiovascular risk in calcium supplements takers, but not in study subjects consuming comparable amounts of calcium from food. Scientists speculate that sudden elevations of blood calcium levels that occur with supplements may have adverse effects within arteries.

Based on the data currently available, I feel strongly that the safest and most effective means of obtaining calcium for optimal health is through foods and not supplements, and that calcium supplements should be avoided with the exception of those who are unable to meet their needs through their diet.

Click here to see how you can get optimal amounts from your foods.