Cardiovascular disease continues to rank as the leading cause of death among men and women in western cultures. Many lifestyle factors, including processed food diet, lack of physical activity and daily stress contribute to this largely preventable disease and cause of early death. While there are many natural compounds and nutrients that help to help lower the risk of developing heart disease, taking supplemental calcium to prevent bone loss and osteoarthritis is now shown to be a significant factor that promotes the development of cardiovascular disease and advancing mortality, especially in women.
Excess Calcium Intake Disrupts Homeostatic Balance to Double Heart Disease Risk in Women
A research team from Uppsala University in Sweden has published the results of a study in the British Medical Journal that explains how high intakes of calcium (corresponding to diet and supplements) in women are associated with a higher risk of death from all causes, but cardiovascular disease in particular, compared with women with lower calcium intake. For decades, women have been advised to supplement with a daily course of calcium ranging from 1,000 to 1,500 mg to prevent bone loss. This study demonstrates how that advice may be a leading cause for the development of heart disease and early death.
Researchers studied 61,443 Swedish women over an average period of 19 years to test the association between heart disease risk and calcium intake. Data was gathered on total calcium received from both dietary and supplemental sources. The team grouped the women from the lowest mean calcium intake of 572 mg/day to the highest (2,137 mg/day). The scientist factored in lifestyle data including menopausal status, postmenopausal estrogen therapy, weight and height, smoking habits, leisure-time physical activity and educational level to help parse the results.
Women Need to Closely Monitor Calcium Intake from Food and Supplements to Lower Heart Disease Risk
Over the course of the study, 11,944 women, or 17 percent died. The team determined that 3,862 died from cardiovascular disease, 1,932 from heart disease and 1,100 from stroke. The study did not further differentiate specific diagnoses between cardiovascular disease and heart disease. The highest rates of death from all heart disease related causes were associated with a daily calcium intake higher than 1,400 mg/day or lower than 600 mg/day. Women in the top quartile that took a daily calcium supplement were found to be twice as likely to die when compared to those in the ideal range of 600 to 999 mg/day.
The researchers concluded that either high or low calcium intake can override normal homeostatic control causing changes in blood levels of calcium. Although not mentioned in this study, past work has also found that vitamin K is necessary to move excess calcium from the blood into the bones and teeth. Without this critical nutrient, calcium remains in circulation where it is easily bound with oxidized LDL cholesterol to form deadly arterial plaque. Individuals consuming a healthy diet rich in vegetables, nuts seeds and fruits should receive sufficient calcium from diet and naturally benefit from a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, without the need for supplementation.