Monday, August 02, 2010

Calcium supplements may be harmful & what to use instead….

Today's Post: Monday, 8-2-2010


Last week, several online news outlets had this story. On Thursday, 7-29, Reuters had this headline.:

“Calcium supplements may raise risk of heart attack”

Their lead paragraph read:

“Calcium supplements, which many people consume hoping to ward off osteoporosis, may increase the risk of heart attack by as much as 30 percent, researchers reported Friday.”

The article goes on to quote Ian Reid, professor of medicine at the University of Auckland in New Zealand as saying that supplements -- by being absorbed so quickly, boost your blood calcium levels above normal for four to six hours while calcium from food is very slowly absorbed and does not do this at all.

And, it occurs to me that food sources often have lower amounts of calcium than supplements also which would add to this different effect.

Professor Reid also said that other studies previously have found high levels of blood calcium were liked to blood vessel damage and increased numbers of heart attacks.

I also have heard that scans showing high amounts of calcium deposits in your arteries was much more correlated with heart attack risk than most other risk factors.

So, either high levels of calcium in the blood causes plaque deposits or causes them to be larger and harder by adding to them as they form. This increases the resulting high blood pressure and makes blood vessel blockage more likely by narrowing them and not allowing clots to pass because of the added stiffness of the blood vessels.

So, this has several implications for people trying to keep their bones strong. One is that they should rely on other means than calcium supplements to do so.

The article lists eating calcium rich foods, exercise, not smoking and keeping a healthy weight as alternatives.

So what to do if you have been taking calcium or calcium supplements with magnesium to prevent osteoporosis?

Several things jump out at me as being critically important. And, I also list those things that are actually MORE effective than just taking calcium supplements to prevent osteoporosis.

1. Since you may have increased your risk of heart attack, taking separate steps to lower that risk should be a very high priority.

And, first on that list should be avoiding tobacco smoke. We now know that every exposure to tobacco smoke whether from smoking or from second hand smoke helps add to the creation of plaque in your blood vessels AND can trigger heart attacks in people who would otherwise not get them. Since tobacco smoke apparently also increases the risk of osteoporosis, this is a VERY high priority item indeed!

Foods that have calcium in them include nonfat and very lowfat dairy products, beans and lentils, other vegetables such as broccoli that have some calcium, and cooked wild caught salmon with bones-- and all are foods OK to good for your heart. They help lower high blood pressure. And, they fit well with eating to get or stay free of excess fat to help keep your weight down to the desirable level.

Building up slowly to vigorous exercise and doing it several times a week for many years has recently been shown to be one of the most effective heart protections known. Your HDL goes up, your triglycerides and LDL go down – AND your plaque forming small particle LDL goes down quite a bit.

NOT eating foods containing hydrogenated oils, oils high in omega 6, refined grains, high fructose corn syrup, or high levels of salt; & eating sugar only occasionally in small amounts; and NOT drinking regular or diet soft drinks have the same effects as regular vigorous exercise. These foods and drinks are also fattening. Unfortunately, if you eat and drink them, your heart attack risk goes up. If you do eat and drink them, your HDL goes down, your LDL and small particle LDL go up and your triglycerides go up as well. You also add excess fat. Water, tea, coffee, some 100 % whole grain foods but not too much, extra virgin olive oil, and lots of nonstarchy vegetables of several varieties tend to improve your heart health instead.

2. The very small amount of calcium in multivitamins should not be a problem particularly if you take them just after a meal to slow the release of the calcium.

3. Separate studies have found that taking calcium by itself does not do that much for preventing osteoporosis. But, getting a decent calcium intake in food plus taking 2,000 iu or more of vitamin D3 does seem effective. If you don’t take that much vitamin D3 seriously consider doing so. It not only helps prevent osteoporosis, it has many other health benefits, and it is quite inexpensive besides.

Other supplements that may help include boron and vitamin K2. Given that it’s a related metal to Calcium, strontium supplements might be a bad idea. But people who get a decent amount in food such as whole grains, leafy vegetables and dairy products have been found to have harder and stronger bones than people who do not.

As a supplement, several studies have found strontium to be much more effective at keeping bones strong than calcium. So if you have some osteoporosis now or have a family history of it, you might want to increase your efforts to protect your heart and take the strontium supplements also.

4. Weight bearing and force exertion for your legs and other bones strengthens them and adds to their mass and density in much the same way that they strengthen your muscles.

Swimming and bicycle riding in a seated position may be OK for interval cardio; but they tend to not have the effect you need to build your bones.

Strength training, jumping rope, running, using a Nordic Track, walking, and even doing chores at home while standing all DO build your bones. So start slow with the more intense of these, but the more of these kinds of exercise you do, the stronger and denser your bones will be. (Note that until about 80 years ago, humans everywhere walked at least two or three miles every day. So, walking may be particularly important to do. And, you do NOT have to be superfit already to begin doing walking several times a week.)

Doing such exercises regularly may in fact may determine more about your bone strength than what you eat.

5. Do NOT drink soft drinks, particularly colas. The phosphoric acid in them tends to de-mineralize your bones if what I have read is correct.

And, that’s in addition to their very powerful fattening effects! (Note, in case you don’t yet know, diet soft drinks also fatten as they are an effective appetite for sugary foods stimulant.)

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2 Comments:

Blogger Jack said...

Chances are the calcium supplement you are taking now is a rock source of calcium. The label will say "calcium carbonate", which is nothing more than limestone. AlgaeCal Plus contains an organic, plant-sourced calcium form derived from a unique South American marine algae called Algas Calcareas™.

9:03 AM  
Blogger David said...

I was aware that there are such marine calcium supplements where the calcium in them is a food source.

Taking such supplements by themselves might be a way to avoid this problem.

But to be safe, I'd take it right after a meal.

And, if you are taking it for bone strength and health, be sure you are also taking at least 2,000 iu a day of vitamin D3 and getting some weight bearing exercise from walking to doing strength training for you thigh muscles.

(Taking at least an extra 200 to 400 mg a day of magnesium and a boron supplement and a K2 supplement may also help.)

12:41 PM  

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