Calcium is an essential mineral best-known for its role in supporting healthy bones. (Although vitamin C, vitamin D, and magnesium are just as important for healthy bones.) It also supports muscles, nerves and heart health (your most important muscle).
But there are a number of reasons why you should get this essential nutrient from food sources instead of supplements.
Unfortunately, calcium supplements remain a huge part of the natural products market. And doctors continue to recommend them. Especially for postmenopausal women on hormonal therapy after a hysterectomy. They also may advise calcium supplements for patients on restricted diets.
However, calcium supplements get a failing grade, across the board, for many reasons.
First of all, taking a typical calcium supplement is like trying to eat a box of rocks to get your needed minerals.
But the problems with calcium supplements go far beyond basic biology.
For instance, Consumer Lab recently performed an independent evaluation of 27 calcium products on the market. Most of them contain the wrong form of calcium (inorganic), which the body can’t absorb, like rocks. Or they cost too much. And one was even contaminated with lead.
Most adults need 1,000 to 1,200 mg of calcium per day. And despite what your doctor may advise, you can and should always get your daily calcium requirement from foods.
Why dietary calcium trumps supplements
It’s impossible to get too much calcium from foods in your diet. In fact, research links higher calcium from the diet with many health benefits.
On the other hand, research links too much calcium from supplements with cardiovascular diseases.
In fact, excess calcium from supplements contributes to calcification and atherosclerosis (“hardening of the arteries”), the underlying cause of coronary heart disease, ischemic stroke, and peripheral vascular disease of the legs.
Indeed, excess calcium (not cholesterol) is a real cause of heart disease. In addition, chronic inflammation, B vitamin deficiency, and other factors ignored by the mainstream can contribute to the development of heart disease.
High calcium intake from supplements (but not from diet) also increases the risk of dementia, kidney stones, and prostate cancer. In addition, calcium supplements interfere with your thyroid hormone and with certain antibiotics (if you must take those, which I generally advise against).
Lastly, calcium from supplements interferes with absorption of other minerals, like iodine and selenium.
This side effect is just another nail in the coffin for the ridiculous multi-vitamin pills. Even if they could possibly contain the right doses and combinations, you shouldn’t actually take them in combination!
If, for whatever reason, you still have to take a calcium supplement on doctor’s orders, I will guide you on how to appropriately and safely include such a supplement in your regimen, in the upcoming August 2017 issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter. If you’re not yet a subscriber, now is the perfect time to get started.
“Tests of Popular Calcium Supplements Including Combinations with Vitamin D, Vitamin K, and Magnesium,” Consumer Labs (www.consumerlabs.com) 5/17/2017