For years women have been told to 'take your calcium', it's good for your bones. Now, maybe not so good for the heart? What gives?
Over the years, we in medicine, have told women that taking extra calcium is beneficial for bone health. Those of us that adhere to the natural or holistic approach have advocated more than just calcium. We have always suggested doing more than just taking calcium for bone health. There are many other minerals (magnesium, etc.) sequestered in the bones that are needed for proper bone health and need to be available on a daily basis.
The potential problem that was pointed out in an article in the British Medical Journal in April of 2011 was that taking calcium may increase the risk of heart disease. The authors of the article suggested that we should get calcium from the diet. I agree. The problem is that the diet may not contain adequate calcium. We also have to look at the fact that a lot ( I'm being generous) of the population do not eat enough of the calcium rich foods even if the foods did contain adequate calcium. The authors pointed out that food bound calcium was not implicated in heart problems.
These same authors, in another study, found that there was a 27 to 31 % increase risk of heart attacks in women taking calcium without vitamin D. You would always want to take calcium with vitamin D as it helps absorption of calcium among other things. Vitamin D also helps with the transport of calcium into the bone. At this point I would go further and suggest that women that are concerned about bone health should have their vitamin D status determined through blood test. Once this is done you can supplement vitamin D to maintain proper levels, above 40 ng/dl.
Something else that was not mentioned in the study was vitamin K. Very important this vitamin K and green veggies have lots of K as well as bound calcium. Vitamin K helps metabolise or transport the calcium, and other minerals, into the bone. Certain forms of vitamin K, specifically MK7, a type of K2, in other studies has shown to be able to help remove calcium form plaques in the cardiovascular system.
As you can see there are more things involved to this claim that calcium increase cardiac risk than just taking calcium. At Doctor's Nutrition we are approached daily on this issue of calcium and bone health. We always suggest increasing calcium intake as well as adding both vitamin D and K2 to the daily regimen. Now, let's add some weight bearing exercise and we have the recipe for healthy bones. And never take calcium without vitamin D.