A research study printed in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) has recently revealed a connection found between the use of calcium supplements and an increased risk of experiencing a heart attack. Not only that, but the findings have also shown that there is no significant correlation between dietary calcium intake and a lower risk of strokes and heart disease, as previously thought.
Calcium is often recommended to post-menopausal women and the elderly to help prevent osteoporosis. Previous studies have connected higher intake of calcium with lower risk for obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure—all of the risk factors associated with strokes and cardiovascular disease.
These new findings were taken from a study where 24,000 participants, between 35 and 65 years old, were kept track of over an 11 year period. These participants had a variety of calcium intakes from both supplemental and dietary sources. Participants whose diets contained a daily intake of about 820 mg from both supplements and dietary sources experienced a lower heart attack risk than people who had a minimal daily calcium intake.
However, researchers found that the people who took more than 1100 mg of calcium regularly did not experience this lower risk of heart attack. There wasn’t any evidence any definite amount of calcium neither prevented stroke nor elevated the risk for strokes.
Participants who used calcium supplements on a regular basis had around an 85% higher chance of having a heart attack in comparison to those who did not take supplements. This risk was increased among people who only took calcium supplements. They were actually twice as likely to experience a heart attack compared to participants who did not take supplements.
Authors of this study conclude that people should be more cautious about using calcium supplements. In the past, there has been research that showed a connection between calcium supplements and the risk of abdominal problems and kidney stones. Although trials suggest that supplements decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, that doesn’t mean that patients have also experienced fewer strokes and heart attacks.
The authors speculate that dietary intake of calcium is perhaps better to assimilate because we take in small amounts on a daily basis. Supplements provide a massive rush of calcium into the system, and so our bodies are unprepared to handle such large amounts. Calcium should be valued as an essential part of a well-balanced diet, instead of a preventative pharmaceutical measure for various health conditions.