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WARNING: Calcium Supplements Might Actually Damage Your Heart

Oct 14, 2016 04:53 AM EDT
Calcium Supplements
Calcium supplements increase the risk of coronary artery calcification
(Photo : Kham Tran/Wikimedia Commons)

A new study reveals that taking calcium supplements might actually be more detrimental than beneficial, especially for the heart.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, showed that people who are regularly taking over-the-counter calcium supplements were about 22 percent more likely to develop coronary artery calcification, a risk factor for hardened arteries and strong indication of developing heart disease.

"When it comes to using vitamin and mineral supplements, particularly calcium supplements being taken for bone health, many Americans think that more is always better," said Erin Michos, M.D., M.H.S., associate director of preventive cardiology and associate professor of medicine at the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in a statement. "But our study adds to the body of evidence that excess calcium in the form of supplements may harm the heart and vascular system."

For the study, the researchers recruited 2,742 people from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. The researchers asked each participant to complete a 120-part dietary questionnaire to determine their daily calcium intake. The participants were also asked to undergo cardiac CT scans to measure their coronary calcium score. The participants were then divided into five groups based on their total calcium intake.

After taking into account the participants' age, sex, race, exercise, smoking, income, education, weight, smoking, drinking, blood pressure, blood sugar and family medical history, the researchers discovered that participants who take more than 1,400 milligrams of calcium a day is approximately 27 percent less likely to develop coronary artery calcification than those who consume about less than 400 milligrams of calcium daily.

However, when the researchers separated the participants who received their daily calcium dose through their diets and participants who take calcium supplement, they found that participants who take calcium supplements were 20 percent more likely to have coronary artery calcium scores rise higher than zero over the decade.

With their findings, the researchers noted that the body seems to respond differently to calcium supplements and calcium-rich foods. The researchers also advised consumers to better eat heart-healthy diet consisting of calcium-rich foods than rely on calcium supplements for their daily calcium intake.

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