Getting enough calcium in your diet can be key to keeping your bones healthy and strong throughout your life. That’s why it’s often suggested that older people take calcium supplements in order to help to prevent issues such as broken bones and osteoporosis.
However, among the various side effects of taking calcium supplements after 50, a study has now found that they may actually damage your heart as you age.
In the study that was published in BMJ, researchers took a look at more than 2,600 people who were an average age of 74 years old. They were also patients who had calcification of their aortic valve that was considered to be in the mild to moderate range. While a third of the participants took calcium supplements and another third took both calcium and vitamin D supplements, the final group took no supplements at all.
As a result, those behind the study found that after a period of more than five and a half years, those who had taken calcium supplements alone faced a 24% higher risk of death. Taking vitamin D supplements along with calcium upped that percentage to a 31% risk.
“Taking additional calcium cannot be helpful, and may even be harmful,” said senior researcher Dr. Samir Kapadia, chair of cardiovascular medicine with the Cleveland Clinic.
This is why Dr. Kapadia adds that if you take supplements, it’s important to consult a professional to see if you should continue to do so or not.
“As a physician of internal medicine and vitamin expert, I would suggest that calcium supplements should be used minimally to avoid potential harm,” Arielle Levitan M.D., author of The Vitamin Solution:Two Doctors Clear the Confusion About Vitamins and Your Health, tells Eat This, Not That!. “We have long known that taking them in excess can cause an array of potential side effects including kidney stones, constipation, and even more concerning, calcium deposition in tissues such as the heart and possibly breast tissue.”
Instead, Levitan points out that most people get enough calcium through their diet alone. For instance, it can be found in foods such as “dairy products, dark greens, almonds, substitute milk products, chickpeas, and more.”
To find out more about how to get an adequate amount of calcium in your diet, be sure to read The #1 Best Food to Eat for Calcium, Says Science.
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