Is Your Calcium Supplement Increasing Heart Attack Risk?

New research in the British Medical Journal, reported up to a 24% increased risk of heart attack in post-menopausal women taking calcium supplements.  As most of my 50+ female patients are being told to take between 1200-1800mg of calcium a day by their MD’s, I know this research will result in a lot of questions.

The medical community is questioning the validity of the study, which is to be expected. It’s a long-accepted truth in conventional medicine that women need calcium in very high doses to build bone, and paradigm shifts happen very slowly in medicine.

Understanding Calcium

As a naturopathic doctor, this tentative finding isn’t as surprising. When you have an understanding of how the body works at a biochemical level, the possible calcium-heart attack connection may make some sense.

Calcium has many important functions in the body, but it doesn’t work alone. It actually works in concert with, or in balance with, other nutrients.  When you put calcium in the body in much higher amounts than normal, the other nutrients may not be present in high enough amounts to either support or balance what the calcium is doing.

Calcium is a contractor of muscles. All muscles, including, of course, the heart. Magnesium, calcium’s more chilled-out brother, is the relaxer of muscles.  These two nutrients work in concert to effectively contract and then subsequently relax our muscles.  With this relationship in mind, it might not be a stretch to consider that if you supplement calcium by itself at very high doses, there may not be enough magnesium around to balance it out and help our muscles to relax.

Want to read more about the study? http://www.latimes.com/health/boostershots/la-calcium-heart-20110420,0,4042620.story

Questions about your current calcium supplements? Just contact the office at 705-444-5331 or [email protected]

-Tara

 

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