Making about 2 percent of total body weight, calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. It is also considered the most important. It is essential for bone and teeth health, muscle contraction, and regulation of heart beat, among other functions. Calcium supplements are often recommended and prescribed for bone health including prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.
Being essential for proper functioning of the heart, it is ironic that calcium should be linked to heart disease as well.
In the recent issue of Heart (May 2012), 24,000 German men and women who took calcium supplements were 86% more likely to suffer heart attacks than those without supplements. The risk for heart attacks in calcium-supplemented individuals could reach 139% of that compared to “controls” (supplement-free people). See original story
One reason for calcium being linked to heart risk is the potential for causing arterial calcification (that is, calcium deposition in the arteries). However, a recent study found no link between calcium supplements and heart disease.
Researchers of a new study have revealed that they have found no evidence of a link between calcium intake and coronary artery calcification, reassuring adults who take calcium supplements for bone health that the supplements do not appear to result in the development of calcification of blood vessels.
Researchers at the Institute for Aging Research (IFAR) at Hebrew SeniorLife, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School (HMS), found that study participants who had the highest calcium intake, from diet or supplements or both, had the same coronary artery calcification score as those who had the lowest calcium intake.
The coronary artery calcification score represents the severity of calcified plaque clogging the arteries in the heart and is an independent predictor of heart attack. See original story
The best way to get calcium is through your food. The best source is milk and other dairy products. Green leafy vegetables are also good sources. Calcium supplements can also be taken, but it is advisable to consult a physician before starting on these.