Calcium supplements associated with increeased heart attack risk

Associations of dietary calcium intake and calcium supplementation with myocardial infarction and stroke risk and overall cardiovascular mortality in the Heidelberg cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study (EPIC-Heidelberg).

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

It has been suggested that a higher calcium intake might favourably modify cardiovascular risk factors. However, findings of an ultimately decreased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) are limited. Instead, recent evidence warns that taking calcium supplements might increase myocardial infarction (MI) risk.

OBJECTIVE:

To prospectively evaluate the associations of dietary calcium intake and calcium supplementation with MI and stroke risk and overall CVD mortality.

METHODS:

Data from 23 980 Heidelberg cohort participants of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study, aged 35-64 years and free of major CVD events at recruitment, were analysed. Multivariate Cox regression models were used to estimate HRs and 95% CIs.

RESULTS:

After an average follow-up time of 11 years, 354 MI and 260 stroke cases and 267 CVD deaths were documented. Compared with the lowest quartile, the third quartile of total dietary and dairy calcium intake had a significantly reduced MI risk, with a HR of 0.69 (95% CI 0.50 to 0.94) and 0.68 (95% CI 0.50 to 0.93), respectively. Associations for stroke risk and CVD mortality were overall null. In comparison with non-users of any supplements, users of calcium supplements had a statistically significantly increased MI risk (HR=1.86; 95% CI 1.17 to 2.96), which was more pronounced for calcium supplement only users (HR=2.39; 95% CI 1.12 to 5.12).

CONCLUSIONS:

Increasing calcium intake from diet might not confer significant cardiovascular benefits, while calcium supplements, which might raise MI risk, should be taken with caution.

  My take on what’s happening here is that those who consume dairy products, which have been shown to reduce heart attack risk but which also contain a lot of calcium, do indeed have lower MI risk. But calcium supplementation alone increases risk. Since coronary artery calcifications are made largely of… calcium, this makes sense.

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2 comments
Tuba says January 5, 2016

This posed quite a problem for me. My diet program has consistently showed for three years that I am getting only about 43% of my RDA regarding calcium (I am 65, male, follow a primal/paleo lifestye, lift three days a week, cycle 90 miles a week.) My blood calcium, however, stayed steady in the middle of the range. The diet program also showed I was consistently low on potassium. Using No Salt and adding Potassium Bicarbonate to my diet solved the potassium issue. The calcium remained. I was aware of research like the above and how calcium supplements are not a good idea for most people. Then I came across a You Tube video by Dr. Jason Fung about calcium. The bottom line is the calcium RDA (1,200 mgs for me) is a medical guess and in real life healthy people get about 400 mgs daily, and not from dairy. Above that they get sick with various problems. Thus I adjusted my program and now I meet or slightly exceed the healthy daily calcium amount without having to change the diet much or take a supplement. I was going it right all along. It is the RDA that is screwed up. But more so this highlights how the medical profession is 1) ignorant regarding supplement and RDA but at the same time 2) arrogantly dismisses it. And they got the fat and diet stuff woefully wrong as well. It is not the august profession it once was. If it weren’t for the internet they would still be handing out garbage advice.

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    P. D. Mangan says January 5, 2016

    Tuba, that’s interesting, I didn’t know that about the RDA but it makes complete sense. By the way, blood calcium level isn’t a good indication of overall calcium status since hormonal and other regulation strives to keep calcium in the blood within a narrow range. It will even take calcium from the bones to do so.

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