May 25, 2012
Researchers Expose More Evidence That Calcium Supplements Increase Heart Attack Risk
For years, the medical industry has been promoting the use of calcium supplements to prevent osteoporosis, reinforcing age-old myths that calcium supplementation builds strong bones and teeth. Newly published research is reinforcing previous studies warning that calcium supplements should be 'taken with caution' after findings suggested consumption of the supplements could double the risk of heart attack incidence.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), food will always be the best source of calcium: "People who get the recommended amount of calcium from foods do not need to take a calcium supplement. These individuals still may need to take a vitamin D supplement. Getting too much calcium from supplements may increase the risk of kidney stones and other health problems."
The current study -- published in Heart -- questions the safety of calcium supplement pills, suggesting that the mineral causes changes in blood vessels that could lead to twice the risk of heart attack.
"Calcium supplements have been widely embraced by doctors and the public, on the grounds that they are a natural and therefore safe way of preventing osteoporotic fractures," said the researchers, led by Professor Sabine Rohrmann, from Zurich University's institute of social and preventative medicine.
"It is now becoming clear that taking this micronutrient in one or two daily [doses] is not natural, in that it does not reproduce the same metabolic effects as calcium in food," they added.
Rohrmann and her team argued: "We should return to seeing calcium as an important component of a balanced diet, and not as a low cost panacea to the universal problem of postmenopausal bone loss."
Meanwhile, Natasha Stewart, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), noted that whilst the research indicates there may be an increased risk of having a heart attack for people who take calcium supplements... "this does not mean that these supplements cause heart attacks."
"Further research is needed to shed light on the relationship between calcium supplements and heart health," said Stewart. "We need to determine whether potential risks of the supplements outweigh the benefits calcium can give sufferers of conditions such as osteoporosis."
April McCarthy is a community journalist playing an active role reporting and analyzing world events to advance our health and eco-friendly initiatives.