Who would have ever thought that we would have to make a choice between saving our bones and saving our hearts? For most, taking a calcium and vitamin D supplement seems reasonable to prevent osteoporosis, but according to a recent study, the calcium supplements we take may increase our cardiovascular risks.
A new analysis of the Women’s Health Initiative Calcium/Vitamin D Supplementation Study has determined that it may not be the dose of the supplement, but the fact that the supplement is being taken in the first place. This analysis found a link that showed an increased risk of heart attack with those who take the supplement, independent of the amount taken. Calcium and vitamin D supplementation acutely increases blood calcium, causes vascular calcification and alters blood clotting mechanisms. All of these consequences may lead to carotid artery plaque thickness, aortic calcification, heart attack and death.
So is it really a choice between bone health and heart health? It may in fact be, but further investigation is needed. In the meantime, try getting calcium and vitamin D from your food instead of supplementation. Foods rich in calcium include dairy products, broccoli, Chinese cabbage and kale. Foods rich in vitamin D are limited, but include fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel. Also, read food labels. Many foods are now fortified with both calcium and vitamin D.