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Calcium and Heart Attack—What You Really Need to Know

SupplementsYou saw the sensational media headlines last week: calcium supplements cause heart attacks! We told you the truth about this several weeks ago, before the latest research came out. If you take calcium, be sure to read this.

The source of the media hype was a British Medical Journal article which reported on a survey of fifteen trials in which participants (all over age 40) were given at least 500 mg of elemental calcium per day. The researchers concluded that calcium supplements increase the risk of myocardial infarction by about 30% over five years.
This was another example of bad research, poorly constructed from a scientific point of view. But it does contain an element of truth that we all need to understand.
First, the research itself: Daniel Fabricant, PhD, vice president of scientific regulatory affairs for the Natural Products Association, said the results of this study go against years of research showing the benefits of calcium supplementation, and suggested that the authors of the research “cherry picked” the fifteen studies from hundreds of available research studies in the area.
Andrew Shao, PhD, senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs for the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), said that their conclusions are “dramatically overstated….Seven of the fifteen trials evaluated had no, or incomplete, data on cardiovascular outcomes…. Further, the researchers chose to exclude any trials administering calcium plus vitamin D—including the Women’s Health Initiative, which found calcium plus vitamin D had no effect on the risk of coronary heart disease or stroke.”
This last point—about taking calcium with vitamin D—is vital but still incomplete.
As we reported just last month, supplemental calcium should never be taken alone. It needs additional magnesium, vitamin D, omega–3 fatty acids, and vitamin K (in particular, vitamin K-2, which is especially important). Without these essential co-factors, the calcium may end up in our blood vessels or our heart, where it causes harm, rather than our bones, where it is needed. So long as these co-factors are taken as well, many studies have shown that added calcium plays an important role in building and maintaining bone mass—and also reduces the risk of colon cancer.
It is unarguably true that many people are taking calcium in the wrong way. The answer is not to stop taking it. There are enough cases of bone loss (osteoporosis) as it is. And the potential side effects of osteoporosis drugs are truly scary.
In the article we ran about calcium several weeks ago, the World Health Organization was urging world governments to put extra calcium in everyone’s water supply. We explained that this was a bad idea. Now the British Medical Journal is implying that any supplemental calcium is unsafe, which is untrue if the needed co-factors are taken too. So, in effect, one conventional medicine authority is saying one thing, and another conventional medicine authority is saying the opposite.
What this underscores is that the general public needs access to health advisors—including integrative MDs, and doctors of osteopathy (DOs)—who know about proper supplementation and can give the kind of expert advice that is needed. Conventional medicine’s attacks on the licenses of integrated doctors for practicing outside the conventional “standard of care,” which often means recommending particular supplements, doesn’t harm those physicians alone, but the entire American public.
People will take supplements whether conventional medicine (and especially the giant drug companies backing conventional medicine) like it or not. So it is particularly dangerous to try to shut down doctors who are skilled in the use of functional foods and supplements.

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47 thoughts on “Calcium and Heart Attack—What You Really Need to Know

  • Where are the teeth to shut down these fraudulent study results, paternalistic profiteers and fraudulent criminals? Any Doctor, Hospital, Agency or Pharmaceutical causing human harm or death should be charged with it to the fullest extent of the law. If the law is not existent, let us make them.

    • steve

      The old image of doctors who care deeply about their patients has become anciant history. It’s all about the money now. A few years ago the AMA came out with a study that said vitamin E was as beneficial as some prescription medicines for your heart and cardio-vascular system. 8 months later there’s another study, paid for by a drug company, that says vitamin E causes heart attacks. Doctors, insurance companies and drug companies only care about the profit margin. Not your health.

    • All I know is I take 800 I.U.’s of coral Calcium every night. Included in the capsuels are 500 mg’s of Magnesium and 800 IU’s of Vitamin D. Since I have been taking calcium I seldom have acid indigestion except very,very occasionaly. I used to have it nearly everyday.

    • deborah

      I take the Standard Process Calcium, whats your take on it not including the magnesium, when
      everyone including this article says should be a combo ?
      do you take it separately….

    • I agree. Naturopathic Physicians are the best qualified doctors for the use of nutritional supplements. It is a no brainer for me to supplement Calcium with other cofactors when needed even before hearing about these studies.

    • I know what you mean when you say one thing and the next week others are saying something similar, the internet has made it a small world. Keep it up, the world is listening.
      Don Jusko, Real Color Wheel

  • It is truly sad that our medical profession is still putting profit and or egoism ahead of real health. Some day perhaps this will change and the medical profession will put health first. Until then we are lucky to have such watchdog groups as the Alliance for Natural Health. You are a blessing to the world and for that I thank you. We thank you…

  • Seth Kaplan

    And, on a related front: People who take omeprazole (Protonix, a proton-pump antacid) every day should also be taking 600-1,200 mg of calcium and 200 mg of B12 to help absorb the calcium.

  • Jeff

    Has anyone ever considered that the government’s artificially low RDI for vitamin D has been a contributing factor for increases in heart and artery disease when people reach middle age and begin loading up on calcium supplements? Not to mention, they constantly warn you if you exceed the recommended 400 IU of vitamin D per day you risk developing hypercalcemia.
    Uh, what about the approximately 10,000 IU our body can make daily from summer sun exposure?
    Sorry, but I took 10,000 IU D3 every day last winter and my 25(OH)D level was 64 after 4 1/2 months of this dosage. My calcium blood test was 8.9 mg/dL and that’s with a daily supplement of 1000 mg calcium. I think that’s pretty good for a 60 year old man.
    This sounds like another typical Big Pharma financed scare mongering tactic.
    You know they won’t be happy until every one of us are strapped to hospital beds with IV’s pumping us full of their expensive, patented drugs.

  • I do not take calcium as a supplement, although I used to. I have since learned that strontium, even more than calcium, is essential for building healthy bone tissue, and I take a good supplement which includes strontium but, surprisingly, NO CALCIUM. My last Bone Density Test showed improvement over last year’s, and I expect my next test to be even better. (My bone density is being monitored because I am taking Femara, a drug that can cause “thinning” of the bone.)
    Also, I take Vitamin D as a matter of course, among many other good supplements, including omega-3 oils and a multi with some Vitamin K and magnesium. I think I get enough calcium from the dark leafy vegetables I eat. I would recommend this course of action to almost anyone.

  • kerrie Waldron

    Thankyou for clearing up the confusion.
    I’m off to get Vit K-the only 1 missing.
    I’m ALWAYS wary of conventional medicine’s advice about nutrition and supplements because of their BigPharma paradigm.

  • Esther Schwartz

    We take all the co-factors you mentioned except for Vit K-2. My husband takes warfarin and his doctors has advised against Vit K. Is this a potential problem?

  • Eldon Dahl

    What is the best form of calcium to take? There are several different kinds of calcium. Some are not digestable and assimilate into our bodies. I have read that Caltrate is just chalk and not digestable. Is this correct?

    • cheerful

      The very best and most bio-avaolable calcium you can get is calcium amino acid chelate. That is what you body would try to convert it into if you gave it anythign else. that is the only form tha body can actually use. It takes all other forms and trys to convert them into an amino acid chelate. Your body is, unfortunately not a very efficient chelator, so it is best to find a true amino acid chelate that is already in the correct form. Personally, I use 4 Today and Lifezone.

    • Caroline Curtis

      I’m not a doctor so this is not a medical recommendation. But from what I’ve read, calcium citrate is the best form of absorbable calcium. I take this everyday myself (the formula I take has Magnesium and I also take D3 and K2 separately). I’ve read that you should take 2x calcium for 1x magnesium (i.e. 500 mg. calcium and 250 mg. magnesium). I don’t know what the proportion should be for the K2 but I take 30 mg. daily.

  • Anita Knight

    The government document: “Toxicological Profile for Fluorides, Hydrogen Fluoride, and Fluorine (F) 1993, notes on page 112: ‘Subsets of the population unusually susceptable to the effects of fluoride and its compounds are the elderly, people with deficiencies of calcium, magnesium and/or vitamin C, and people with cardiovascular or kidney problems.” And page 125 notes: “Neurotoxicity. Because fluoride interacts with calcium ions needed for effective neurotransmission, fluoride can affect the nervous system.” Page 129 notes calcium gluconate is the most effective treatment for fluoride poisonining.

  • Sandra Woodall

    What are the exact proportions of Calcium to Magnesium, to D3 (it is D3, isn’t it?), to omega-3(preferred source? will flaxseed do?), and to K-2? We need the details or the information is no good.

  • Anita Knight

    Another government document: “Health Effects of Ingested Fluoride”, 1993, National Academy of Sciences/NRC, notes on page 129, High dietary levels of calcium can combine with fluoride, making it unabsorbable from the gastrointestinal tract.

  • Irmgard Helene Howe

    My experience some years ago. I was taking a trial Med. for bone loss in my left hip. They gave me calcium with D to take plus the trial Med. After 2 yrs my hip had rebuilt. My Doctor at the time had me take Zocor and I stopped it 2X. So he send me for a heart scan at my cost. The result was a 23% buildup in my arteries. Eight years before I had a heart scan thru the Womans health organization and had 0 build up. I analyce things and came up with the built up for taking calcium. I stoped the Statin and went for Chelation tratment. I am 72 yrs young and take no meds. My built up in my arteries is minamal according to my recent sceening of ” Life Line Screening”. My homopatic Md was pleased. Needless to say I take minerals not calcium.

  • Freda Schmidt

    Thanks for explaining the truth about the benefits of supplements..why and what the difference in information is and why the information that get published has bias information in it…Good quality food supplements are very beneficial for the body….
    There is a difference if food and synthetic [coal tar based]. be sure to buy food supplements….

  • sheila zwirn

    People need to be in charge of their own health. It is up to to the individual to seek information.
    When you hear news like the calcium headline, it is up to you to question who did the test?
    what co? guidelines? How long? How many subjects etc.

  • Pamela Lippe

    This is so informative and very important! How can this kind of educational information get into the public reading material? Meaning, Newspapers and local food stores that have holistic magazines.

  • Dan Kam

    I am grateful to you for publishing and informing me and the rest of the general public who may take the time to read your material about studies and comments on suplementation so that we can make knowledgeable decisions on intake of these vitamins for the benefit and not harmfulness to each of our bodies. It seems unfortunate in this day and time that most people are so “busy” and on the go so do not take the time or effort to learn fully about things which they ultimately will feed into their bodies and thereby help or harm their health. Many rely upon the television commercial to influence their decision on what to buy or ingest for their particular problem. That is why drugs do so well because of their influential impact on individual perception of what they need for a happy and healthy lifestyle. Keep up the good work.

  • MrJames

    Thank you. It is important that people understand the relationship of vitamins and minerals. They do work in concert. I am a person that remembers what the concept of WHOLE means. WHOLE FOODS AND COMPLIMENTARY SUPPLEMENTS. A great source of information on this is ‘PRESCRIPTIONS for NUTRITIONAL HEALING” by Phyllis A. Balch, cnc. Available at most book stores. The information in this book could save your life.

  • Donald


  • A Mein

    I don’t like to think where this leaves people on Coumadin/warfarin which is known to cause bone loss and artery calcification. A forced Vitamin K deficiency along with lots of calcium prescribed to combat the resultant bone loss. What a losing nightmare.

    • Yes and do you think for a second the thousands of honest PhDs at HHS do not know this? Why is their voice being silenced?
      Coumadin/warfarin also promotes cancer metastasis.
      The simple truth is if you eat LOTS green leafy vegetables you will get all the calcium you require. Plus you will get the magnesium calcium MUST be balanced with. If you get an hour or so of high noon sun without the toxic sun blocking crap you will get the vitamin D calcium MUST have to be deposited into your bones and NOT in your arteries, cells, cell mitochondria and other soft tissue to include your heart’s valves. The Bantu women have the strongest bones in the world they eat about 200mg – 300 mg of calcium/day.
      If you take the time to understand the somewhat complex vitamin K issue and learn how to get this critical calcium co-factor, you will also avoid the deposition of calcium in your soft tissue. The reason vitamin K is somewhat complex is because like so many key nutrients it has been ruthlessly politically driven out of our food supply. Coumadin/warfarin works by driving vitamin K out of your body. Incidentally almost NO ONE needs Coumadin/warfarin, what they need is the education to learn how to salubriously keep their blood healthy and stop over clotting. But it is much easier to give a tv watcher a pill that puts his life at risk.
      “Drugs like Coumadin that antagonize vitamin K do more than cause bone loss and arterial calcification. In a model of melanoma in mice, the oral administration of anticoagulant drugs that antagonize vitamin K drastically promoted metastasis.” Life Extension Extension, Note does your doc tell you this when he puts you on this toxin? Does he even know?
      Almost all of us lack vitamin D, vitamin K, magnesium and MANY more critical nutrients.
      “Dairy products are rare in China, so is osteoporosis.” William Fisher
      “Fosamax can dramatically increase your chances of getting atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is a worrisome irregular heart beat. And the increase in risk isn’t small. The drug increases your risk of atrial fibrillation by 86% in just three years. Since Fosamax is a long-term drug, it’s quite likely anyone who takes the drug will eventually have heart problems. To protect you from atrial fibrillation, your doctor likely will have you take Coumadin (rat poison). Coumadin thins your blood and prevents blood clots. But it also promotes osteoporosis. You’re obviously not going to get healthy with this type of system.” Doctor Robert J. Rowen MD, Note read on, you ABSOLUTELY need neither rat poison nor Fosamax for strong bones. Please read each research paragraph and you will get a good idea of what is and is not required for strong bones.
      “Calcium intake demonstrated no protective in preventing bone fractures. In fact, those populations with the highest calcium intakes had higher fracture rates than those with more modest calcium intakes.” Calif Tissue Int 1992;50
      “A group from Minnesota found that 100 percent of elderly patients admitted for fragility fractures were vitamin-D deficient despite the fact that half of them were taking vitamin D supplements.” Curr Med Res Opin. 2005, Note this is your government RDA at work. a RDA for vitamin D of 200 – 400 is criminal IMO
      ”One of the primary roles of vitamin D is the regulation of calcium and phosphorus absorption and metabolism for bone health. This role is especially important during pregnancy and lactation because bones develop rapidly during this period.” William B. Grant, PhD, and Michael F. Holick, PhD, MD
      “I think of osteoporosis as being the greatest misunderstood women’s health problem of modern times. Doctors have been pushing calcium on us for decades and osteoporosis continues to plague us. Excessive calcium contributes to arthritis and heart disease, diseases that have become more prevalent in women ever since calcium has been emphasized. Not only is calcium not the solution, in many cases it’s the problem.” Doctor Fuchs PhD, Women’s health specialist
      “Sodium fluoride added to drinking water is one of a number of substances that is harmful to our bones. It causes an apparent increase in bone mass, but the bone structure is abnormal and weak. Recent studies indicate that hip fractures are more common in areas where water is fluoridated.” Yiamouyiannis, Cooper et al, Journal of the American Medical Association, July 1991, 19(32):513-514, Note this revelation thus refutes totally our supposed “need” for the deadly toxin fluoride

    • Caroline Curtis

      I like to think that a balanced formula would negate any ill-effects of any one vitamin/mineral. As such, I would believe that if you take the right balance of calcium/magnesium/D3/K2 that you would not have to worry about the affects of the K2 on Coumadin/Warfarin or any other blood-affecting drug. Balance is everything!

  • HANK

    Why are doctors dumping their medicaid/medicare patients? My sister was dropped…no reason given. Is Washington paying attention to the fact that possibly millions are being dumped from medical practices prior to 2014. Are these doctors receiving instructions from the AMA? Lot’s of questions and no answers.

    • Doctors cannot afford government patients. The government does not pay the full bill, often threatens and the threat of silly audits dissuades. This is why a “national health system” is such a cruel joke.
      The state of Missouri just voted to op out of Oh Bam a care. IMO get your state to do the same.

      • Caroline Curtis

        This is also true for businesses that deal with medicare patients. My husband is a pedorthist (makes orthotic devices for shoes). Many customers are diabetic patients who are on medicare and we do not accept medicare. Not only does the government not pay the full amount owed (or even a decent percentage of the bill), they have a prohibitive application process to even be able to accept medicare reimbursement as well as too many regulations. It’s simply not worth it! And on top of everything, you have to wait for the government to reimburse you after you have already paid for the supplies, overhead, time and labor to provide the goods/services. People think you will make it up in “volume” but you are only losing volumes of money!

  • Most medical doctors are ignorant when it comes to nutrition and so are dietians when it comes to
    biochemical, physiological nutrition. Calcium absorption and utilization depends on vitamin D. Also,
    there is a close interplay between calcium and magnesium. When a person takes calcium, that
    person should also take magnesium and, if not generously exposed to sunlight, that person must take vitamin D at levels in the 1000’s of units, much more than the 400 IU recommended for years.

  • Karin

    I was taught that one must always take MAGNESIUM with Calcium. The ratio of Magnesium to Calcium is still being debated (some studies show women need more magnesium than men, ie a higher ratio) … so I take 1:1 Mg to Calcium. Indeed, the results reported in the subject studies above may have been caused by taking products that provide Calcium as a stand-alone without any Magnesium..

  • I find this report funny, interesting and sad.
    Funny because calcium is a muscle relaxer, and the heart is a muscle.
    Interesting, because I am sure big pharma is behind this.
    Sad, because I am sure a lot of people will believe it.
    To “Brenda Ray” I say, “good luck”.

  • These so called Biochemist/Biologist, are starting to get on my nerves with all this scare tactics they use! The U.S. is being over run with “Fear” and “Intimidation” as it is…..Then we get these YOOH! YOOH’s! out there that bring more confusion & fear. The best and safest thing to do is…….Do everything in moderation. Rule of thumb that I always go by is…..To much of a good thing can be bad for you, as well the bad……. One thing! What form of Calcium was this study done on???? It is kind of like the scare in 2004 about the Vit E. Then a Doctor wrote an article and confirmed it was synthetic Vit E. that the study was done on……. Imagine that!!!!!!!!!!! People are people and we can be deceiving, make errors and not admit our mistakes, cause more harm than good!!! Watch the Power of Suggestion!! Words are powerful they are containers that can kill, steal and destroy your lives….Listen to what you know is TRUTH!!!!! Know what you believe and Who!

  • It is possible that taking calcium supplements without taking an equal amount of magnesium does cause heart attacks. Even though they slanted the presentation of the information, it is detrimental to drink juice supplemented with calcium, to take calcium supplements, multivitamins and prenatals that contain more calcium than magnesium. Magnesium deficiency is also caused by enteral and parenteral food supplements, they contain three to five times as much calcium as magnesium. A favorite teacher of mine Dr Mildred Seelig, MD PhD taught this topic in my clinical nutrition training, look at http://www.mgwater.com or her book The Magnesium Factor to understand better about excess calcium causing magnesium deficiency and health risks including migraines, worsening asthma, need for inhaler usage increases, difficulty swallowing, high blood pressure, leg cramps, restless leg syndrome, constipation, nervous tics, sudden death and more. Carolyn Dean MD, ND discusses this issue extensively in her book The Magnesium Miracle. One of the platforms of the non profit corporation COPP A LIfe Corp is this very issue, excess calcium supplementation without equal or adequate magnesium deficiency causes the above named health risks.

  • it is detrimental to drink juice supplemented with calcium, to take calcium supplements, multivitamins and prenatals that contain more calcium than magnesium.I think that is good. And you?

  • I was left for dead by my Dr. because of a choice I wasn’t really wanting to make….it took me awhile until I found my way to Holistic Medicine which also means “self responsibility”. I had to learn how to manage my own health and learn about foods, vitamins, and minerals on my own. Each day I progressed and left sugery and medicine behind. I had to see the real truth…..my doctor was motivated by money and he really did not know about a full range of choices, he only knew what he was taught and what kind of deal he worked out with the drug companies for prodoct resources. The health care reform bill is an insurance reform bill making sure Dr and Pharmacies make more money and get paid…..Holistic Health Practitioners and Therapies have been left out…..it is all about “profit margin.” I will have to pay for the millions of American’s who are going to tip the table for early bad health and on the disability program. Children will never know what good food is unless we all accept responsibility for our collective action and get busy in this food revolution…….I heard wholewheat bread outsold white bread this week. A HUGE WIN!
    I have come a long way and each year my life has been extended with the understanding and availablility of new nutrients and ways of preparing organic and home grown foods. I am grateful.

  • The “Heart” of the problem is Unbalanced Calcium Metabolism – that is, EXCESS CALCIUM not properly balanced with ADEQUATE MAGNESIUM. The new advanced form of magnesium, known as Potentiated Magnesium (pMg), solves the problem. Lots of green veggies provides all the calcium (and vitamin K) an adult who has reached peak bone mass (about 30-35 and older) needs. Add about 1,000 mg/day of magnesium and about 2,000 mg/day of vitamin C (both in pMg), some vitamin D3 (from fish oil), some omega-3 fish oil, and some CoQ10 – plus vigorous walking 30-40 minutes per day – has repeatedly demonstrated superb heart health benefits (and supports strong bones) in the many who have undertaken this regimen. On the other hand, calcium supplements taken alone supply excess calcium that contributes to unbalanced calcium metabolism, calcified arterial plaque formation and buildup, and makes bones brittle and hence more subject to fracture.

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