During our life style reviews we ask our clients for a list of pharmaceutical drugs and supplements they are taking. Invariably calcium supplementation is one that appears on most people’s lists. This is often present in multi vitamin and multi mineral formulas, pharmaceutical calcium supplements for osteoporosis, or is present in antacids.
Calcium has become such as popular supplement, and so tightly linked to bone health, that the last 20 years has seen its use grow by over 100% among women over 60.
Calcium supplementation though, has a dark side that causes untold problems to your cardiovascular, mental, and hormonal health. If you are using calcium it is very important that you be doing so with regular advice and checkups from a qualified health practitioner with experience in nutritional medicine.
Calcium & Your Heart
Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, is one of the biggest single risk factors for death from cardiovascular disease. Increasingly, research is finding that excessive calcium intake from supplementation dramatically increases the risk of cardiovascular disease mortality (1) as the free calcium prevents your body from dissolving arterial plaques as they build up.
This additional risk was not seen where calcium intake was from dietary sources.
Calcium & Your Brain
Like many of today’s chronic lifestyle conditions, Alzheimer’s rates are soaring. Once a rarity, Alzheimer’s is now the third leading cause of death in Australia. While clearly not the only reason, free calcium excess due to long-term calcium supplementation is a contributing factor to formation of amyloid plaques common on Alzheimer’s disease. (2)
As in all things balance is important. While your brain requires calcium to convert electrical impulses to chemical signals, too much calcium exerts neurotoxic effects leading to the death of neurons in the brain.
Calcium & Your Hormones
We find many women suffering hormonal imbalances, particularly high levels of estrogen which often give:
- mood, anxiety and depression,
- weight gain.
A study of the effect of oral calcium supplementation found a significant increase in levels of estradiol, the most potent form of estrogen. (3). This means if trying to reverse a hormonal imbalance, the long-term use of calcium supplementation can actually cause further problems.
Calcium & Your Breasts
We have also found high levels of free calcium to cause breast calcification. These small lumps will often show up on mammograms, and depending on site or size can often need a biopsy for further investigation.
While breast calcification are very different to breast cancer, they can often be an early warning sign of precancerous cells, so must be taken seriously. If you have breast calcification you should call our Naturopaths for more information.
Important Things to Remember If You are Taking a Calcium Supplement
If you are, or have used, Calcium supplements remember these three important points.
- Regularly review your supplement usage with your Naturopathic practitioner to make sure it is still suitable for your needs
- Eat a balanced diet high in vegetables and including a broad range of colours to get as much of your nutritional needs as possible in the way we were intended to
- If using Calcium supplementation always make sure it is the correct form of Calcium and is based on Calcium Hydroxapatite and not Calcium Carbonate
If you want more advice about supplementation to support your best health and wellbeing call us today on (07) 3800 1993.
 Li, Kaaks, Linseisen, and Rohrmann. 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)..Heart,2012
 Itkin, Dupres, Dufrêne, Bechinger, Ruysschaert, and Raussens. Calcium Ions Promote Formation of Amyloid β-Peptide (1–40) Oligomers Causally Implicated in Neuronal Toxicity of Alzheimer’s Disease.PLoS ONE,2011
 Rabia, El-Shishtawy, Ibrahim, and El-Gayar. Effect of calcium on estrogen and follicle stimulating hormone secretion in rabbits.Archives of Pharmacal Research,1990