Harden your bones — not your heart

Millions of Americans take calcium supplements every day to keep their bones healthy. But it turns out these supplements come with serious consequences…

They contribute to the build-up of plaque in your arteries and could cause heart damage. At least, that’s the latest conclusion from researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine.

They conducted a 10-year study that examined the medical records of more than 2,700 people. These records showed that people who took calcium supplements were 22 percent more likely to develop signs of heart disease over a 10-year period.

And this isn’t the first time the dangers of calcium supplements have come to light. In 2012, German researchers found that women who took calcium supplements doubled their risk of a heart attack. These supplements were also linked to an increased dementia risk for women with cerebrovascular disease earlier this year.

So what’s the deal with calcium supplements? Why are they so dangerous?

Well, it all comes down to how your body is absorbing them. Previous research shows that calcium supplements don’t always make it to your bones. But they don’t get completely expelled in your urine either. So, where do they go?

They seem to accumulate in your body’s soft tissues, like your heart. In fact, scientists already know that calcium-based plaques tend to build up in your aorta (the body’s main blood vessel), blocking blood flow and increasing your risk of a heart attack.

But researchers believe a few other factors could explain why your body responds negatively to calcium supplements too — like the fact that your body may have a hard time processing such a large dose of calcium all at once. Or the fact that calcium supplements are made from calcium salts, which are harder for your body to digest.

Either way, it’s clear those calcium supplements in your vitamin cabinet probably aren’t doing your body any favors. On the other hand, the calcium-rich foods in your pantry and fridge are….

John Hopkins researchers also found that people who got the most total calcium, from both food sources and supplements, were 27 percent less likely to develop heart disease than those who got the least calcium. Apparently, the danger comes from relying too heavily on supplements and forgetting nature’s original supplement… your food! Some of the best calcium-rich foods to add to your daily diet are:

  • Dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese, etc.)
  • Dark leafy greens (kale, spinach, collard greens, etc.)
  • White beans
  • Bok choy
  • Tofu or edamame
  • Watercress
  • Sardines
  • Broccoli
  • Oranges
  • Almonds
  • Okra
  • Figs
  • Salmon

Because your body processes calcium best when it comes in smaller doses (500 mg max), that’s another reason it’s a good idea to get your calcium throughout the day from meals. Just make sure it adds up to at least 1,000 mg of calcium per day. And if you’re a woman over 51 or a man over 71, you’ll want to get even more — at least 1,200 mg of calcium per day.

Now there are ways to keep calcium from hardening your heart… starting with vitamin K2, the missing nutrient your heart craves.

Vitamin K2’s biological role is to help move calcium into the proper areas in your body, such as your bones and teeth. It also plays a role in removing calcium from areas where it shouldn’t be, such as in your arteries and soft tissues.

EDTA chelation therapy is another. In short, chelation therapy was created by the Germans in the early 1930s to remove heavy metals. It is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to remove heavy metals. Unfortunately, the FDA will never approve EDTA chelation therapy for cardiovascular disease simply because it would jeopardize the heart surgery industry’s multibillion-dollar medical monopoly. To learn more about EDTA chelation, see what Dr. Cutler says about the life-saver heart surgeons never tell you about.

  1. J.B. Anderson, et al. “Calcium Intake From Diet and Supplements and the Risk of Coronary Artery Calcification and its Progression Among Older Adults: 10‐Year Follow‐up of the Multi‐Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Journal of the American Heart Association, 2016; 5 (10).
  2. Kern, et al. “Calcium supplementation and risk of dementia in women with cerebrovascular disease.” Neurology, August 2016.
  3. “Calcium and calcium supplements: Achieving the right balance.” The Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  4. “Calcium.” National Institutes of Health. https://ods.od.nih.gov. Retrieved October 12, 2016.


Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.