Calcium supplements may cause an increase in heart attacks

AMUK Healthy Living Blog


Calcium supplements may be associated with increased risk of heart attacks

Author : Dr Apelles Econs

24 May 2012 - BBC News: Calcium supplements may be associated with increased risk of heart attacks

Dr Econs' comment:

This piece of news from Germany may well be a milestone in our attempt to identify the most important risk factors in coronary artery disease.

The theory behind it is as follows:

Atherosclerotic plaques forming in the arterial wall have a lot to do with cholesterol/lipids and triglycerides (the latter being the metabolic product of excessive intake of carbohydrates). A major element in these plaques is also calcium deposits. 

Calcium is the main element in the cells, especially muscle cells, which are also present inside arteries.

The concern many in the health professions have shared for decades is that, people who have an increased risk of osteoporosis (brittle bones) have difficulty to sustain healthy levels of calcium.

However, the so-called western diet, with its emphasis on dairies, meat and protein, offers an abundance of calcium. It has been estimated that an "average" diet has a calcium:magnesium ratio of 9:1 compared to nature in general where the ratio is 2:1. 

When I assess patients' minerals in blood tests, calcium is rarely low.

It has somehow been added to vitamin D supplements, on the notion that ageing bones need more of it. This may well prove to be a fallacy.

A view that I share with some colleagues, who have a special interest in Nutrition and Health is that, what is missing in the case of osteoporosis is not adequate amounts of calcium but adequate amounts of vitamin D. This is particularly true for populations in the northern hemisphere, where sunlight is in short supply. In the presence of vitamin D deficiency (very common in the UK), however much calcium we take is not utilised in the bone tissue. 

In my view, this study has raised justifiable concerns about calcium supplements.


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