Calcium Supplements Risk for Heart Problems

If you have been taking these to help your bones, there is a hidden danger that has been exposed by new research in the British Medical Journal which adds to mounting evidence that calcium supplements increase the risk of cardiovascular events, particularly heart attacks, in older women.

Nutritionists have been saying for some time that calcium supplements alone are not a good idea, but these new findings suggest that their use in managing osteoporosis should be re-assessed. They are often prescribed to older (postmenopausal) women to maintain bone health and sometimes they are combined with vitamin D, but there are a whole range of heart supplements that are needed, not just calcium alone.

A team of researchers, led by Professor Ian Reid at the University of Auckland, re-analysed a seven-year trial of over 36,000 women to provide the best current estimate of the effects of calcium supplements, with or without vitamin D, on the risk of cardiovascular events.

What they found was that the women who were not taking personal calcium supplements at the start of the trial but then were given a combined calcium and vitamin D supplement were at an increased risk of cardiovascular events, especially heart attack. By contrast, in women who were taking personal calcium supplements at the start of the trial, combined calcium and vitamin D supplements did not alter their cardiovascular risk.

The authors suspect that the abrupt change in blood calcium levels after taking a supplement causes the adverse effect, rather than it being related to the total amount of calcium consumed. High blood calcium levels are linked to calcification (hardening) of the arteries, which may also help to explain these results. The authors concluded that these data justify a reassessment of the use of calcium supplements in older people.

If you do want to keep your bones strong, and not impact your heart, then gentle regular weight bearing exercise is a start, and add plenty of black pepper to your diet as it contains four anti-osteoporosis compounds and boron, which is also good for bone health, is found in abundance in cabbage. Also healthy for bones are garlic, onions and eggs plus cod liver oil A which is a natural source of vitamins A and D3. If you do want to take a supplement look for one with a good mix of bone building nutrients including vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, silica and boron. Higher Nature make a good one called Osteo Food and the best natural way to build bone is to have good levels of progesterone as that is the first bone-building substance the body needs.

Reflux drugs can increase hip fracture risk

If you suffer from stomach upsets and are taking reflux drugs on a regular basis, you might want to rethink your options. A very large Canadian study has confirmed that taking such drugs for several years will enormously increase your chances of having a hip fracture – by nearly five times – and can lead directly to osteoporosis.

Why are these drugs having such an effect? The problem is that you need acid to absorb calcium and if you reduce the amount of available stomach acid after you’ve eaten by taking reflux drugs then the calcium you can’t absorb, but need, has to be taken directly out of your bones. The study shows that over just a few years this can more than double your risk of fracture, and the odds keep climbing steeply the longer you take them. Some patients have been taking them for many, many years and ironically one of the results of a lack of calcium is acid reflux – for which the drugs were prescribed in the first place.

Calcium is essential for many functions in the body, one of which is to increase gut mobility, and that’s important because medical researchers say that reflux is primarily a motor disorder. This means that if you aren’t absorbing much calcium due to the reflux drugs you’re taking, and don’t have calcium to spare, you’re back to reflux and that means you take more of the drug, or a stronger dose. That may be fine for the drug company, but it isn’t doing much for your bones. Even after you stop the drugs, it may be years before your body can restore a proper calcium balance so that your reflux vanishes on its own.

There are natural alternative treatments for reflux such as Apple Cider Vinegar, having a diet with plenty of greens and vegetables, and supplements such as spirulina and calcium and for me, a cup of peppermint tea after a meal can settle the stomach, rather than the more usual coffee, which is in itself acid.

What is probably even more important is to get your ‘body clock’ working properly. One of the most common symptoms of jet lag is reflux, because flying half-way around the world upsets your biological clock, just as staying up until the early hours and ‘fooling’ your body with artificial electric light does.


** Have a fixed time for going to bed as often as you can and is possible for you.

** Make sure your bedroom is totally dark, with no lights left on or even natural moonlight through the curtains.

** If you get up during the night to go to the bathroom, have a low watt red light bulb to show you the way.

** Try to increase your period of total darkness to an ideal nine or ten hours a night.

** A nightcap is often favoured before bed, but it won’t help you sleep, or your acid reflux, so drink earlier in the day, and if you smoke that will also increase your reflux symptoms so reduce or stop that habit if you can.