A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association finally solves unanswered questions about calcium and heart health. Depending on HOW you get your calcium, it can either be good or bad for your heart. These results have real implications for the 43% of people who take a supplement that includes calcium.
This was big news. Calcium can be bad for your heart. Here’s how they figured it out.
Researchers from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine took a deep dive into 10 years’ worth of medical tests on over 2,700 adults participating in US government heart study.
Most importantly, they looked at calcium intake as well as the SOURCE of the calcium. They separated the results into those taking calcium supplements and those getting calcium from food.
The results are striking. They found that those taking calcium supplements had a significant increase in the risk of heart disease and had higher rates of plaque buildup in their arteries.
The lead author of the study, Dr. Erin Michos said, “Our study adds to the body of evidence that excess calcium in the form of supplements may harm the heart and vascular system.”
Several studies have previously suggested calcium from supplements does not get to bones or is not fully excreted, and so accumulates in soft tissues.
Now for the good news: Researchers were able to show a huge benefit for heart health when calcium came from FOOD sources.
People who got calcium from food—such as dark leafy veggies or dairy—had a much lower risk of heart disease.
Why should there be an increased risk from supplements but not from food sources? Study co-author John Anderson, who is the professor emeritus of nutrition at the University of North Carolina, put it this way:
“It could be that supplements contain calcium salts, or it could be from taking a large dose all at once that the body is unable to process.”
Since heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women, this study should cause everyone to look at the source of calcium they consume.
Most vitamin supplements contain calcium carbonate which is produced by either:
To find out what’s in your supplements simply look at the ingredients. You want to see whole food sources and not calcium carbonate.
It’s now clear that for heart health you need to get calcium from food. If you tolerate it, dairy is a good source. However the best sources are plant-based. That’s because calcium in plants comes with all the needed co-factors for absorption.
Wondering how to get enough calcium to protect your bones, while also protecting your heart? Here are 5 plant sources for heart-healthy calcium:
If you’re not getting all your calcium from your diet, make sure the supplements you use source calcium from FOOD (not rocks).
An easy way to add more greens to your diet is to turn to a superfood juice powder.