Study: Calcium Supplements May Not Be Heart Healthy

Released: 10/20/2016




Calcium supplements that women take to maintain bone health could increase risk of heart disease, a new study from Johns Hopkins University researchers is suggesting.

Meanwhile, calcium in “natural form”--foods that are naturally high in calcium--may even help protect the heart, the researchers said.

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.” She is associate director of preventive cardiology at the school's Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease.

"There is clearly something different in how the body uses and responds to supplements versus intake through diet that makes it riskier. 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," study co-author John Anderson said. He is a professor emeritus of nutrition at the University of North Carolina.

The study used data from more than 6,000 people and looked at risk factors and characteristics of cardiovascular disease.

Getting calcium from natural sources takes on even more importance. WESTMED nutritionist Allie Holzer, RD, CDE says foods rich in calcium include not only milk and many dairy products, but also green, leafy vegetables, broccoli, oranges and beans, among others.

Also, she has identified some unexpected non-dairy foods that enhance bone health. They are:

Alliums (onion family)
French beans
Red cabbage
Chinese cabbage
Mushrooms (not shitake)
Wild garlic
Oranges (and other citrus fruit

Researcher Dr. Michos recommends, “Patients should really discuss any plan to take calcium supplements with their doctor to sort out a proper dosage or whether they even need them."

The study about calcium supplements was published in the Oct. 10 issue of the Journal of the American Heart Association