Yesterday, on a mainstream news website, came this story “Women with high levels of calcium are at twice the risk of dying from heart disease“, a fact that naturopath’s have known for quite some time, but has been soundly ignored by medical professionals and the media.
How often do we hear of a woman being diagnosed with osteoporosis, and being told by their doctor to take high-dose calcium supplements? This comes straight from the medical mind-set of “one pill for one ill”, as if calcium is the only mineral that bones are made of, and that taking extra will fix the problem. There is so much wrong with this way of thinking, and we are seeing the consequences of that with the increased risk of heart disease from calcium supplementation becoming more widely publicised.
As I wrote in a previous blog post: A Calcium Supplement Problem – Serious as a Heart Attack” – “Anyone who has listened to David Wolfe’s Longevity Now! Program, or been to one of his live events, would be familiar with his stance on calcium supplements and the danger they pose to our health. We have been told for decades we need extra calcium to support our bones and prevent osteoporosis, however nothing could be further from the truth. Osteoporosis is a complex and multi-faceted disorder, and not one that can simply be corrected by adding in extra calcium supplements or increasing your dairy intake.
More important than calcium for bones, are the minerals magnesium, boron, silica and zinc; we need good levels of vitamin D, adequate protein intake, good hydration, an alkaline diet, hormone balance, and weight-bearing exercise to support our bone strength and to prevent osteoporosis, much more than any dangerous calcium supplement. And as this article below shows, calcium supplementation increases your risk of heart attack and cancer, not to mention painful calcification in other areas of the body such as joints and soft tissue.”
The article from the Daily Mail website states: “Women with high calcium levels are at twice the risk of dying from heart disease than those with ‘normal’ levels, scientists warn.
New research adds to evidence that calcium supplements could be doing more harm than good in people with adequate intakes by overloading the body. Hundreds of thousands of women over 50 take supplements for preventing osteoporosis, or thinning bones. But the latest research shows women with calcium intakes at least double the recommended level are at high risk of death from all causes, particularly cardiovascular disease.
Researchers from Uppsala University in Sweden studied 61,443 Swedish women aged 50 and over for an average of 19 years, including their calcium intake from diet and supplements. Average intake among those with lowest levels was 572mg per day (the equivalent of five slices of cheese), rising to 2,137mg per day among those consuming most. Results showed that over the 19 years, 11,944 women (17 per cent) died: 3,862 of these (32 per cent) died from cardiovascular disease, 1932 (16 per cent) from heart disease and 1100 (8 per cent) from stroke. The highest rates of all-cause, cardiovascular and heart disease were observed among those with a dietary calcium intake higher than 1400mg per day. In addition, researchers observed higher death rates among women with an intake below 600mg per day.
Women whose daily calcium exceeded 1400mg and also used supplements had a higher death rate than those not taking supplements – the risk was double compared with a daily intake of 600-999mg. The Food Standards Agency recommends adults have 700mg of calcium a day, which should come from dietary sources including milk, cheese and green, leafy vegetables. Researchers claim the way supplements increase the levels of calcium circulating in the blood appears to have a ‘flooding’ effect which might be harmful. Dietary calcium taken in small amounts is absorbed slowly, and efforts should be made to boost intake in people eating too little, they say.
There have been conflicting results from past research, with some studies finding high calcium intakes increase the risk of heart death among men and women while others have failed to show a link.”
This is why a holistic approach to healing is absolutely necessary. As naturopath’s, we understand that the human body does not have parts in isolation. We an integrated system, and what happens in one part of the body, affects every other part. We also do not conform to the “one pill for one ill” way of thinking, knowing that there are thousands of factors involved in the maintenance of health. To take a calcium pill to halt osteoporosis is a reductionist way of thinking and doesn’t take into account the complex processes involved in building healthy bone. And the side-effects of this way of thinking are now being seen.
Stay away from calcium supplements, and look to food as medicine to serve your nutritional needs. If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, then consult a qualified and experienced naturopath – such as the service we provide at Embracing Health – and look at a comprehensive healing program that encompasses a lot more than calcium, for a true healing, without the dangerous side-effects.