How calcium could be damaging your heart

A daily dose of calcium is supposed to be good for you, but new research has found that it is the way in which you consume your calcium that could make all the difference.

Scientists from John Hopkins conducted an analysis of more than 2,700 people over a 10-year period to determine that calcium supplements may increase your risk of heart disease.

Participants in the study initially completed an in-depth questionnaire about their diet, with emphasis on the amount of calcium-rich foods, such as cereals, dairy products and leafy greens, in addition to the types and quantities of supplements and other medication they were taking.

They also had scans of their heart both before and after the study period, which revealed the level of plaque in their arteries.

Researchers found those with the lowest calcium intake — anything below 400mg each day — were 80 per cent more likely to develop heart disease than those who had the highest calcium intake — anywhere above 1,400mg each day.

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Further, the researchers assessed the make up of the calcium intake among those with the highest consumption and determined if the calcium was being consumed in the form of whole foods or as supplements.

Where the consumption was found to be from supplements, the patients were found to be 22 per cent more at risk of developing heart disease than those who got their calcium from foods.

“There is clearly something different in how the body uses and responds to supplements versus intake through diet that makes it riskier,” nutritionist John Anderson says.

Anderson says it could be that the supplements contain calcium salts, however he also highlighted that taking a large dose of calcium might be too much for the body to process all at once.

As always, Starts at 60 recommends you see your regular health care professional if you have any concerns or questions.

Do you take calcium supplements? Do you balance your supplement intake with calcium-rich foods in your diet?