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2013-05-15

Another Study Proves Safety of Calcium Supplements

Back in February, I covered two back-to-back studies on calcium, one showing calcium supplements are perfectly safe, the other showing increased heart attack risk. Before those studies, I covered a number of other studies over the last couple years providing evidence for both sides of the argument.

Now here is the latest study, and it shows that calcium supplements are not related to heart attacks and stroke. If fact, no associations were found between cardiovascular death and dietary or supplemental calcium intake.

However, what's interesting about this study is that those who didn't get enough daily calcium actually had an increased risk of heart attacks! In this new study, data from 20,024 people were analyzed to estimate the risk of cardiovascular death. People in the bottom 5% for calcium levels had a 50% increased risk of dying from heart disease.

Also, for men in the study, there was a protective effect from death and heart attacks when total calcium intake was between 1300–2000 mg/day.

Now to be fair, the study did show an increase in risk for women with the very highest levels of calcium, but just like everything else in life, moderation is key. I've probably said this a thousand times, "it's the dose that makes the poison." So just don't go overboard and always make sure you're consuming enough vitamin K2 to ensure that calcium ends up in the right places in the body.

This is contrary to another recent study that showed the opposite (high calcium intakes increased the risk in men, but not women). Unfortunately, none of these studies looked at vitamin K levels and intake, which is likely a highly confounding variable that must be controlled when analyzing this data.

Regardless, the researchers in this study concluded, “...there was no strong evidence for an association between calcium supplement usage and cardiovascular death indicating that calcium supplement usage may be a marker of healthy life style despite adjustments for comorbidities, smoking, alcohol consumption, and levels of physical activity.”

Source: Calcium Intake and Serum Concentration in Relation to Risk of Cardiovascular Death in NHANES III

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2 comments:

  1. I'm not sure how to advise my wife who has had no luck with her osteoporosis treatments - she has had all the standard oral and injection/infusion treatments, and had lots of metabolic tests (no findings of problems), and takes calcium and Vitamin D supplementation - yet her bone tests show continuing deterioration - she does not take Vitamin K - should she? RJ

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  2. Hi RJ,

    I cannot legally, or ethically, give your wife any specific recommendations without seeing her as a patient first. However, as a general recommendation I would make to most, she should absolutely take vitamin K2. I would recommend MK-7 (a specific form of K2) at a dose of 180 mcg/day. There is a high quality and "clean" liquid product in Canada that is 30 mcg per drop, so it's just 6 drops daily with food. However, this would not be appropriate if she is taking a blood-thinner called warfarin.

    Also keep in mind that bones are more than just calcium. You need a good mix of minerals (that must also include magnesium, and ideally zinc, etc.).

    Further, without proper collagen production and maintenance, bones just become brittle. That's why things like calcium and pharmaceutical bisphosphonates can increase bone density, but may not necessarily reduce the risk of fracture. It's collagen that allows bones to have a slight degree of "bend" and that's where the strength of bone comes from. Look for collagen in the formulation, or its precursors like L-lysine, vitamin C, zinc, and silica (silicon dioxide).

    If you're in Canada, I usually recommend a product called Inno-Osteo and additional K2 on top of what's included in the formulation. I've had some good results and lots of positive feedback with this product.

    Hope this helps provide some guidance.

    Lee

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