Dangers With Taking Calcium Supplements

Calcium is an important nutrient for health, but new research has found older women may develop significant health risks by taking too much calcium.  A recent study found women who take 1,400 milligrams or more calcium a day had more than double the risk of death from heart disease compared with those who take between 600 and 1,000 milligrams.

Women taking between 600 and 1,000 milligrams of calcium still had a 49 percent higher rate of death from cardiovascular disease and a 40 percent higher risk of death from any cause. There was no increase in death rate among women who took less than 600 milligrams of calcium a day.

There are explanations why this can occur.  Many calcium supplements do not contain magnesium.  Magnesium is an important mineral that is needed for calcium absorption and transports calcium throughout the body.  If there is too much calcium and not enough magnesium, calcium can deposit itself on the inside of your arteries, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke and subsequent death. 

The most forward-thinking nutrition experts are recommending a 1:1 ratio of calcium to magnesium.  For example, if you take 500 milligrams of calcium you should also take 500 milligrams of magnesium.

Based on the results of this study, we are recommending patients to continue consuming healthy foods rich in both magnesium (greens, nuts, dark chocolate and cacao powder) and calcium and take no more than 500-1,000 milligrams of calcium with 500-1,000 milligrams of magnesium a day in supplement form.  A good rule of thumb is you can take more magnesium than calcium, but not more calcium than magnesium.

If you are taking calcium to prevent osteoporosis, this is not the best strategy.  Read our recent article on The 3 Most Important Things You Can Do to Prevent Osteoporosis.