Calcium Supplements Can Be Harmful

calcium supplements

500 milligram calcium supplements made from calcium carbonate

Just yesterday, I received a new email notification from NutritionData talking about the dangers of calcium supplements, linked to a new study “Study: Calcium May Increase Heart Attack Risk.” Interestingly enough, in the book I just read, The Protein Power Lifeplan (published in 2000 — 10 years ago!), the two authors, both physicians, talk about the increased risk, not just for heart problems, but also for other health problems.

First to the study, researcher Ian Reid, MD, of New Zealand’s University of Aukland found unexpectedly that healthy, older women who took calcium supplements to prevent fractures had a slight increase in heart attacks.  He and the other researchers believed, before the study, that calcium would protect the heart.  To confirm the findings, Reid and his colleagues teamed up with universities in the U.K. and U.S.  Their combined conclusion was that “calcium supplementation was associated with a modest increase in risk for heart attacks, but not for strokes or death from heart disease.”

From my research, I’ve learned that people don’t need extra calcium, as long as they are eating a Paleolithic diet, without foods blocking calcium absorption, like grains, and legumes.  (See the article “Newest Research on the Dangers of Soy.” Also, see “Why we don’t eat grains, cereals, and legumes on Paleo.”)  In reality, diets containing high amounts of salts, cereals, and other foods that sustain increased acidity in the blood contribute to the development of osteoporosis and, according to The Paleo Diet website article “Acid-Base Balance and Your Health,” “calcium kidney stones, age-related muscle wasting, hypertension, stroke, asthma and exercise-induced asthma.”

Demineralization of bones, resulting in osteoporosis, occurs because the body is too acidic from the wrong foods.  This website says, “the highest acid-producing foods are hard cheeses, cereal grains, salted foods, meats, and legumes, whereas the only alkaline, base-producing foods are fruits and vegetables.”  To counteract the acidity, the body buffers the blood with calcium, which is pulled out of the bones.  Diet-wise, people should replace hard cheeses, cereal grains, and processed foods with vegetables and fruits.  Also, people should eliminate the fatty meats of corn-fed animals, when possible, and switch to grass-fed and pastured products.  Eating right reduces the need for calcium.

What did the two authors of The Protein Power Lifeplan, Michael Eades, M.D., and Mary Dan Eades, M.D., say about calcium 10 years ago? We need to balance our calcium and magnesium intake because magnesium helps regulate calcium.  Magnesium in our diets use to be plentiful.  Natural water supplies typically had large amounts of magnesium; however, since we typically have city water supplies, magnesium is removed.  The quality of our soil has deteriorated, too, with the use of fertilizers.  They are heavy on potassium, a magnesium antagonist, but are typically void of magnesium; therefore, plants can’t take up any magnesium in the soil, resulting in magnesium-poor plants — food.

The two doctors list a long list of known conditions correlated with a deficiency of magnesium: “heart disease and sudden death, diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and chronic bronchitis…” The list includes 13 health problems, but as the authors say, “that’s not even the half of it.”  Suffice to say, magnesium is very important in our diet, and most people aren’t getting enough.  What is enough?

According to the book, Paleolithic nutrition researchers Loren Cordain and Boyd Eaton calculated that magnesium consumption of our Paleolithic ancestors as much as 800 to 1500 mg per day, which is approximately the same estimate per day for calcium, giving early humans a calcium-to-magnesium ratio of about 1:1.  The authors say, “We now on average consume a diet that provides only an estimated 200 to 300 mg of magnesium and 1200 to 1500 mg of calcium, making our modern ratio not the 1:1 of old but 5:1 or even as high as 15:1 by some estimates.  Nowadays we’re taking in five to fifteen times more calcium than magnesium much to the detriment of our health.”  Ironically, too much calcium in the blood can make bones weak and brittle.

The authors say if you are only going to take one supplement, the one to take is magnesium.  Both calcium and magnesium, along with a host of other vitamins, minerals, and protein, are required to build strong bones and keep you healthy.

When I purchased supplements the other night — based on the book’s recommendations, I purchased magnesium.  Take heed!  You must purchase it in the right form to be properly absorbed.  I bought mine as magnesium citrate.