For centuries we’ve been told to make sure we get our calcium for strong bones.Calcium has become extremely popular to supplement with, especially amongst older women, in the hope that it will prevent osteoporosis. We have calcium fortified foods and a country overly obsessed with calcium-rich dairy foods. Yet, collectively speaking, our health continues to decline. Are you taking a common supplement that may increase the risk of heart disease, stroke,death as well as osteoporosis? Clearly the excess calcium we’ve been getting is not working.
We’ve all seen the products on the market suggesting that supplementing with calcium can help maintain bone health and prevent osteoporosis, a serious condition affecting at least 10% of American women. Yet the evidence that calcium supplementation strengthens the bones and teeth was never strong to begin with, and has grown weaker with new research published in the past few years. A 2012 analysis of NHANES data found that consuming a high intake of calcium beyond the recommended dietary allowance, typically from supplementation, provided no benefit for hip or lumbar vertebral bone mineral density in older adults. And a 2007 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that calcium supplements don’t reduce fracture rates in older women, and may even increase the rate of hip fractures.
An analysis has found that there is a 30 percent increased risk of myocardial infarction for those taking 500 mg or more of elemental calcium.
This could mean that the use of supplements to “prevent” osteoporosis must now be reconsidered. The practice may be causing an epidemic of cardiovascular calcification, hypertonicity of the cardiac tissue, arrhythmias, and heart attacks both through heart muscle cramping and destabilized plaque and subsequent occlusion.
Dr. Ian Reid and his colleagues at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, studied 14,000 women who were taking 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily. They report in the British Medical Journal that these women showed a 31 per cent increased risk of coronary attack, stroke and death. This means 14 extra heart attacks, 10 more strokes and 13 more deaths over a two- to five- year period than women not taking calcium pills.
Why does this happen? Dr. Reid says that people look on calcium supplements as a natural remedy. But that is not the case, as the supplement has a different effect on the body than dietary calcium. His studies show that when people take calcium pills, their blood calcium level shoots up for four to six hours to the top end of the normal range. This may result in calcium being deposited in coronary arteries. It does not happen with dietary calcium, since food is slowly absorbed.
Hughes adds that the most glowing error was not including studies where calcium was taken along with vitamin D. For instance, the Women’s Health Initiative, a major New England study, showed that taking calcium along with vitamin D had no effect on the risk of heart attack or stroke. According to Dawson-Hughes, on no occasion should calcium be taken without also taking vitamin D, as this vitamin is crucial to putting calcium into bone where it should go.
But does taking vitamin D solve the problem? Not so fast again, says Dr. Kate Rheaume-Bleue, an expert on natural health remedies. In her book Vitamin K2 and The Calcium Paradox, she reports that calcium must remain in the bones just as gasoline belongs in the tanks of our cars. And that there is a safe way for both sexes to take calcium supplements to prevent osteoporosis without succumbing to heart attack.
Unlike most physicians, Rheaume-Bleue says it’s not saturated fat and cholesterol that cause heart attacks. Rather, the culprit is a lack of the little known vitamin K2. She agrees that Vitamin D is necessary for the intestinal absorption of calcium. But once in the circulation, D lets calcium, like a raging bull, run wild, allowing it to be deposited in the heart, thus causing an increase in coronary attack.
She says vitamin K2 fights the nation’s No. 1 killer by putting calcium into bones and teeth where it belongs and keeps it out of arteries. For instance, if calcium enters the wall of the aorta, the largest artery that carries blood to the rest of the body, this causes increased risk of rupture and sudden death.
Most people get adequate amounts of vitamin K1 present in leafy vegetables, green tea and soy beans. But many lack K2 because its major source is steamed and fermented sticky soy, not an enticing breakfast meal. The second-best source is cheese.
All researchers believe it’s best to get calcium from dietary sources. But if a dietary deficiency exists, don’t stop calcium supplements, as it’s now possible to protect bones from osteoporosis and your heart from calcium infiltration. Rather, make certain you take 3,000 milligrams of vitamin D along with 100 micrograms of vitamin K2.
It’s available in most health-food stores.
If you have had a stroke or are using a blood thinner, you should check with your doctor before taking vitamin K2.
There are also other minerals besides calcium involved in supporting bone health, such as silica and magnesium. If you have adequate levels of these nutrients, and regularly perform weight-bearing exercise, there is no need for calcium supplementation, which will likely do more harm than good.
One of the best ways to achieve healthy bones is by consuming a diet rich in fresh, raw whole foods that maximize natural minerals so that your body has the raw materials it needs to do what it was designed to do.
Excess calcium also hardens everything in your body, except for your bones which it will actually make more brittle (think about chalk for a second). Bones are made of much more than just calcium – please, please, please educate yourself on this….
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This article is not intended to take the place of a competent nutritionist or doctor. It is solely intended to educate people on the vital and perhaps underestimated importance of this nutritional element.
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