If you pop a calcium supplement every morning, you may want to think twice. New research suggests it could pose a heart health risk.
Johns Hopkins University researchers found calcium supplements may make a person more prone to plaque buildup in their arteries. That buildup can increase the risk of a heart attack. People who did not take the supplements, but opted for a calcium rich diet instead, did not have the same issues.
While the study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, does not definitely prove that supplements actually cause heart problems, researchers want consumers to be vigilant.
“When it comes to using vitamin and mineral supplements, particularly calcium supplements being taken for bone health, many Americans think that more is always better,” said the study’s lead author Dr. Erin Michos.
About 43 percent of American adults take a supplement that includes calcium. Doctors believe the body metabolizes supplements differently than natural calcium your diet.
Researchers focused on more than 2,700 participants over a 10 year period. They found those who took supplements had a 22 percent increased likelihood of developing heart disease over the study period. Those who consumed the most calcium from food and supplements were 27 percent less likely to develop heart disease.
Michos said the results do add to growing research that indicates excess calcium from supplements may “harm the heart and vascular system.”
Foods that are naturally calcium-rich did not pose a problem and may actually protect the heart. The research suggests it may be better to load up on those calcium-rich and fortified foods instead.
The National Institutes of Health notes that dairy foods like milk, yogurt, and cheese are rich sources of calcium, as well as, broccoli and leafy green vegetables, like kale.
What You Should Do
Researchers suggest talking to your personal physician before adding a calcium supplement to your daily routine.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 610, people die of heart disease in the U.S. every year. To put it simply, heart disease is responsible for one in four deaths in America.
Heart disease is the leading killer of men and women in the U.S. Each year, about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack.