According to a new research, supplements for dietary calcium can be harmful to the heart. This new study doesn’t prove that these supplements lead to heart trouble. However, the authors do believe that the results from the study do provide consumers something to think about.
Dr. Erin Michos, the lead author of this study published in Journal of the American Heart Association, stated that people that consume mineral and vitamin supplements, specifically calcium supplements for bone health, think that the more supplements they take, the better it will be. However, their study suggests that taking an excess amount of calcium in the form of supplements can harm the vascular system and the heart.
According to the US National Institutes of Health, almost 43% of the adults in America take supplements. Additionally, more than 50% of the women that are over 60 take calcium supplements to reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis.
In this new study, Dr. Erin and her team analyzed data from medical tests, covering 10 years, performed on more than 2,700 adults. The age of these adults ranged from 45 to 85 and they had to answer questions about the supplements that they consumed and their daily diet. They also had to undergo CT scans to measure the calcification of their arteries which is a known factor for increasing heart attack risk.
The research, after adjusting for a number of factors including income, education, weight, and exercise, suggested that participants in the top one-fifth, regardless of the source in terms of intake of calcium, were at a 27% lesser risk of a heart problem than those that were in the bottom fifth. However, at this point, the statistic only looked at the total intake of calcium in those people that took the nutrient not only from supplements but also from food. Michos’s team then separated the intake of calcium by the source it was from.
It was then found that the people taking calcium supplements were at a higher risk of plaque buildup and also at a higher risk of developing a heart problem when compared to those that took no supplements. Dr. Erin’s team believes that the results of the study add to the increasing concerns of the potential danger of the calcium supplements as compared to the natural calcium taken from food. Researchers also believe that consumers should first have a chat with a well-informed doctor before they decide to use such products.
While supplements of calcium put the heart at risk, foods high in calcium naturally do not and they even play a role in protecting the heart, according to researchers. Calcium-rich foods include milk, broccoli, beans, and other dairy products.
The co-author of the study, James Anderson, explained that there might be a difference in the way the body responds to the calcium taken from supplements versus the calcium taken in through a person’s diet which ends up making supplements a riskier task. There are many plausible explanations for this such as the fact that supplements consist of calcium salt or that the body has difficulty in processing a large dose taken at once.
The results of the current study suggest that because different calcium supplements are available to be bought over the counter, they should not be deemed as completely safe.