Question: Recent studies claim that calcium supplements increase heart disease and stroke risk—particularly in women. Should I stop taking my calcium supplements?
Answer: Unfortunately, we tend to think of research trials and their results as infallible. Some research results may be confusing or, worse, represent a partial truth as the gospel. Many research projects may overlook important prerequisites.
For instance, the recent calcium research project fails to report on several highly important factors such as…
1) What forms of calcium supplements were taken and in what amounts?
2) Did the trial subjects have any pre-existing inflammatory conditions such as absorption issues (bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, etc.), liver or pancreas problems?
3) Since stress raises cortisol levels (an inflammatory hormone) what were the stress levels of the trial subjects?
4) Did the trial subjects have any pre-existing forms of arthritis and/or bone density issues?
5) Were the trial subjects all on the same diet and what kind of diet were they on?
6) What kind of exercise style and amount did the lifestyle of the trial subjects include?
Here are some indisputable facts:
Calcium plays a major role in the biochemistry of our body. But calcium is not solely the most important substance for our bone health. Among other tasks, calcium is instrumental in regulating the body pH balance by keeping down inflammation levels in the body.
So, how does calcium get into the arteries to cause heart or vascular disease? Inflammation makes body tissue acidic, a state that is untenable for the bloodstream. Consequently, calcium is leached from bones and teeth to buffer its acidic pH. But, once in the bloodstream, calcium won’t be reabsorbed back into the bones. Instead, it may…
• harden the arteries resulting in higher blood pressure
• contribute to plaque and hypertension by allowing triglycerides and cholesterols to build up in the arteries
• cause arthritic changes, pains and conditions by depositing dead calcium molecules in small or large joints.
• possibly cause muscle and other pain conditions (e.g. fibromyalgia, brain fog and vision issues)—think of calcium in the bloodstream of the body as “sand in the gears of an engine.”
So, it becomes clear that calcium belongs in the bones and out of the arteries. Heart disease and stroke may well be related to this leached calcium. However, it is highly questionable if excess blood calcium is directly related to supplemental calcium use.
Firstly, most individuals urged to use supplemental calcium suffer from some kind of pre-existing inflammatory condition. Bone loss, arthritis, etc. are direct indicators of natural calcium loss to buffer blood pH values as a result of chronic inflammation.
The calcium in the bloodstream of these individuals comes from their own bone and possibly not directly from their supplements. Calcium supplements need to be absorbed into the body via the small intestines (duodenum). But only calcium in citrate form or from nutritional greens is absorbable. Other forms—such as calcium carbonate, coral calcium, elemental calcium and many other forms—in addition to potentially contributing to kidney stones, may indeed end up contributing to heart events.
But, then again, even calcium citrate only gets absorbed if a person’s GI tract is intact and not experiencing any boating, gas or other inflammatory condition that may lead to nutritional malabsorption.
On another note, we often seem to forget that vitamin K besides being long esteemed as blood clotting factor also is instrumental in “keeping calcium in the bones and out of the arteries.” Many of the leafy green veggies provide vitamin K. But most of the usable vitamin K needs to be formed in our body’s intestinal tract (duodenum).
Consequently, the research conclusion that calcium supplementation raises the risk of heart disease simply indicates too superficial an approach.
Instead, research might want to look at the impaired function of an inflamed small intestinal duodenum as a possible cause of calcium and nutritional malabsorption (acidic pH), calcium leaching (leaky gut), lack of vitamin K production and other of its tasks such as bile release and pancreatic enzyme and insulin regulation as a cause for a raised risk of heart and vascular disease.
Only you can make the decision about what will work best for you and your body. Raising relevant questions is important. Have your doctor help you make your decision or consult with a qualified natural medicine professional before you decide on your customized plan of action.