Dangers of Calcium Supplements

People all over the globe believe that every ailment can be solved by taking a pill. The truth is that most health problems are related to what we eat and drink, what we don’t eat and drink, and how we live our life. One of the matters in this purview is the supplementation of calcium which is highly prescribed by conventional doctors and is far overrated. Calcium supplements provide calcium which is not just difficult to absorb but gets deposited in different parts of our body creating a host of health problems.

Effect on heart
In February, the United States Preventive Services Task Force suggested that postmenopausal women who were taking calcium supplements to prevent osteoporosis should stop using it. After reviewing more than 135 studies, the task force said there was little evidence that these supplements prevent fractures in healthy women.

Moreover, several studies have suggested that calcium supplements are associated with an increased risk of heart attacks and death from cardiovascular disease. Others have found no effect, depending on the population studied and when calcium supplementation was begun.

A study published in May 2012 showed that calcium supplements may increase risk of cardiovascular disease. This study tracked almost 24,000 Europeans and suggested (in a subgroup analysis) that people taking only calcium supplements were about twice as likely to have a heart attack.

Other studies done by Dr. Mark J. Bolland of the University of Auckland found that when calcium was taken without vitamin D (which enhances calcium absorption), the supplements increased the risk of heart attack by about 30 percent. Dr. Bolland then reanalyzed data from the Women’s Health Initiative and found a 24 percent increased risk of heart attack among women who took calcium with or without vitamin D. In this case, the increased risk occurred only among those women assigned to take supplemental calcium who had not already been taking it when the study began.

It is believed that calcium supplements get deposited in the arteries to make fatty plaques. This condition is known as atherosclerosis. These plaques harden and worsen the condition that may lead to heart attack.

Excessive intake of calcium is also associated with altered risks of colorectal, breast, and prostate cancers. Gao X and co-workers at Tufts University, Boston, observed that high intake of calcium is associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer in a meta-analysis of various studies. While, Tseng M and co-workers from Cox Chase Cancer Centre, Philadelphia, further suggested that calcium supplements are strongly associated with increased risk of prostate cancer.

Effect on brain
Alzheimer’s disease has an increasing incidence all over the world. Excess intake of calcium supplements is an important contributing factor for the formation of amyloid plaques that cause Alzheimer’s disease. Our brain requires calcium to convert electrical impulses to chemical signals but too much calcium causes neurotoxic effects that lead to the death of neurons in the brain.

Effect on hormones                                       
Women often suffer from hormonal imbalances that cause many health problems such as depression, anxiety, irritability, and weight gain. A study found that increase intake of oral calcium supplements causes an increase in the levels of estradiol. Thus, women who take calcium supplements actually suffer from many health problems due to hormonal imbalances.

Effect on breasts
High levels of blood calcium can also cause calcification of the breast. These small lumps formed by the deposition of calcium can be seen during mammograms. Calcification of the breast can also cause breast cancer. This is an early warning sign of breast cancer.

Renal insufficiency
High levels of calcium level in the blood increases the risk of stone formation. It can cause renal insufficiency by formation of cells that increases the pain while passing urine.

Effect on lungs
Increase calcium intake can cause a lung disease called as sarcoidosis of the lungs. This is produces due to deposition of the calcium on the walls of the lungs. When calcium growth appears in the lungs, it is called as pulmonary granulomas.

High intake of calcium supplements can also cause constipation. It might interfere with iron and zinc absorption as well.

The best way to prevent dangers of calcium supplements is to avoid taking them and include food that are rich in natural calcium such as bananas, milk, milk products, etc. The calcium available in natural food sources is available in the compound form which is easily absorbed by our body. 

Healthy bone formation depends on vitamin D and vitamin K2, both of which regulate calcium metabolism. There are also other minerals besides calcium involved in supporting bone health, such as silica and magnesium. If you have adequate levels of these nutrients, and regularly perform weight-bearing exercise, there is no need for calcium supplementation. By no means does this article demote consumption of calcium rich foods.

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